The name of the game is work

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I spent last week in Auckland interviewing teachers and students who have been a part of a pilot project using Mission Maker – a computer games authoring package from Immersive Education in the UK. During the interviews I had several conversations about the perceived value of games and gaming in education – all of which came back into focus when I read the following:

Games, for learners, are an invitation to interaction. Unfortunately, most classroom-based learning is not.

It came from George Seimen’s commentary on a Businessweek article titled The Name of the game is Work. The article begins with…

If you’re thinking that maybe you should hide the video game controller from your kids because they’re spending too much time in front of the TV or computer, don’t. What you think is slacking may just be preparing them to become productive members of the workforce when they get older. Their future offices are likely to be heavily digital???especially if they work remotely???and their work may resemble the online games that many now spend hours playing.

… and goes on to describe how several businesses are now experimenting with games as a part of what they do in areas such as recruiting new staff, improving communication between managers and their far-flung staff, and training employees at all levels.

All of this reminded me of the recent announcement about the trialing of the New Zealand’s first remote-controlled da Vinci surgery robot at Mercy-Ascot Hospital in Auckland. This state of the art piece of equipment allows surgeons to perform their surgery remotely, using a console that looks more like a computer game station. I heard a comment recently that the successful use of this equipment requires the same sorts of skills that are required for games playing – fine motor control, 3D spacial awareness etc, suggesting that games playing may well be a desired pre-requisite in the search for surgeons who will use the da Vinci robot!

For an in-depth explanation of the da Vinci surgery robot you might be interested to listen to a Radio New Zealand podcast from Louise Wallace interviewing Chris Hawke, one of two local doctors trained in its use.

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