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Research-based games help make learning fun again

VINCI Education taps the power of games to help students learn

educational-gamesYoung children are naturally curious, and one of the main ways they learn is through play. Yet, when they arrive at school, too often this sense of play is lost.

Aiming to recapture this sense of play and make learning more fun and engaging for students, a growing number of schools are turning to digital games to help teach core curriculum. That’s the thinking behind VINCI Education as well.

The company’s school-based solution, ClassVINCI, includes Android-based tablets designed specifically for young children, as well as animated learning games grounded in cognitive science; non-digital learning objects such as toys and books; a learning management system to track students’ progress and mastery of skills; and professional development for educators.

Using games for learning raises a number of key questions, such as: What does research say about gaming’s potential as an educational strategy? What best practices exist to help educators incorporate gaming into their classrooms successfully? How can schools ensure that games have real educational value, and are not just entertainment?

In an interview with eSchool News, early childhood education expert Sarah Cowan addressed these questions. She noted that, just because a learning solution is “fun,” doesn’t mean it’s not pedagogically sound or academically rigorous.

eSN: What was your role in helping to create the VINCI curriculum?

Sarah: I was hired to write the play guides. I have 17 years of teaching experience, including 11 years as an administrator. I work with an amazing, creative team of people; my role is to make sure the curriculum is educationally sound, developmentally appropriate, and meets the Common Core standards.

eSN: What was the thinking behind using games? How can these play a key role in the education of young children?

Sarah: The reality is, kids are exposed to technology at a very young age. Games are fun; kids love to play games, and we want to make them educationally appropriate. In a game-based environment, we can provide children with educational experiences in which they’re learning but don’t even realize it, because they’re having so much fun.

eSN: Can you describe some of these games in particular, and what skills children are learning as they play?

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