This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

September 25, 2013

Making Education as Addictive as Video Games

The name Nolan Bushnell has been associated with leading-edge technology seemingly forever. As one of the cofounders of the computer gaming company Atari, he created an organization that made and marketed groundbreaking products. And Atari was only one of the many companies he started. Some were successful; others were not. However, whatever electrical engineer Bushnell turned his attentions to, he was always passionate and understood the value of "technology in pursuit of fun".

More recently, Bushnell has turned his attention to changing the way we teach children. Though his is an audacious goal, it is not such a great leap from changing the way children play to changing the way they learn.

Bushnell believes that our schools are teaching "the wrong things in the wrong way". Embracing the power of computers, software, and data analysis, Bushnell thinks we can "teach four years of academics in six months". Then he would have us invest the rest of the time developing children's creativity through "project-based learning". Bushnell's new company BrainRush will build the software needed to realize his goal.

Bushnell's advanced software will adapt to children in the same way videogames do. It will keep children operating at the edge of their ability, and will "level up" the minute it starts getting too easy. The games keep adapting to the player's skill set and keep the child on the edge "between boredom and frustration". They call that sweet spot, "the goldilocks point". "ThatŐs why video games are so addictive," adds Bushnell. He believes he can make learning equally addictive.

Last week, Bushnell announced he will create a nonprofit, BrainRush Labs, that will use the BrainRush game tools to study learning and the factors that affect it. BrainRush Labs' software will measure rates of learning to enable researchers to study the impacts of nutrition, exercise, sleep, and other factors.

BrainRush is just another great example of how technology will be applied to transform education for children. If we can truly make learning fun, we will be able to create an educational process that will work for not only today's students, but also those who will come after.

Special thanks to blogger TeklaPerry for raising our consciousness about this important development.


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