Indian innovators plan to revolutionize school-level education by using video games as a tool for learning. Education here, especially till the 12th grade, is criticized for its rote and formulaic style. Folks designing the video games believe their product could change the routine of dull lectures and exams played out in hundreds of classrooms.
The video games are being created by students from the Indian Institute of Technology –Mumbai (IIT-Mumbai) in collaboration with teachers of PACE, a training center for high school graduates to get into the IIT circuit of engineering.
This idea is being pioneered by Praveen Tyagi, head of PACE, who spoke to SmartPlanet about his vision of “combining the addiction of gaming into the process of learning.” The games are likely to hit the market by August 2012 (the series hasn't been named yet).
“The thought is to create a virtual environment in which a child would be willing and excited to learn, and look forward to having fun while learning, as opposed to the current system of education in which education and fun are almost considered to be mutually exclusive,” he says.
The project focuses on school-going children because deficiencies at this stage, including bad teachers and teaching, have a long-term impact. These lost years make it harder for students to grasp tougher concepts at a later stage, which eventually impacts their performance in the engineering tests.
“We plan to do this for every major school and college subject, but currently we're focusing on standards 6,7 and 8 because we believe that this is the age when the subjects start getting a bit tougher and a learning tool like this could certainly go a long way in changing the attitude of students towards learning,” says Tyagi.
As an educationist, Tyagi says he wants underprivileged children to receive quality education. To this end, games will be available to students at a nominal cost. To grab a non-English speaking audience, the games are being made less language dependent. However, these will be available in Chinese as a first step to making the product available internationally. Students can download the games from the PACE website as well as purchase CDs if their school doesn’t makes it available for free.
Tyagi, however, doesn't give out too many details on the structure of the game. “The game will technically be just like any other computer game, so it can be played like any other computer game,” he says. “The major difference would be in the design of the game- every graphic element, the scoring system, the storyline- everything will be carefully thought of and will have educational value attached to it, but the overall package would be a game and the child would play it for the fun of playing a game.”
While the games will be available at low-cost, PACE will generate revenues through youth-oriented advertisements and value added services like personalized attention or tutorials for the video games. Students will also be able to play against each other over the internet. To create a gaming atmosphere, Tyagi says, winners will get rewards for their work. For instance, cracking the problems on friction or gravity could fetch a pair of Nike or Adidas shoes.
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