I have never played video games. They cut into reading time. Today, I don’t even understand TV advertisements for games. Do you have to get inside an Xbox? What? I am sensing this may become a handicap for an education writer, says Jay Mathews, columnist for the Washington Post. What game designers know about what excites and involves their users may be the key to a new age of online learning. I say maybe because I have grown weary of technological breakthrough reports that promise more for classrooms than they deliver. Twenty-first century learning plans, when you examine them closely, often appear to be little more than curriculums from the previous century with more expensive equipment and better-written mission statements. That’s what I thought until I bumped into Tom Vander Ark’s new book, “Getting Smart: How Digital Learning Is Changing the World,” particularly the chapter on motivation. He lists seven ways video games reward the brain, as revealed in a 2010 speech by editor and game theorist Tom Chatfield…

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