Could Computer Games Be the Future of Distance Learning?


With the current pandemic and school closures, most learning has moved online. Educators are now asking themselves: What is the best way for students to learn digitally?

According to a new book co-edited by Professor Bruce Homer (The Graduate Center), computer games offer a valuable option. Homer has previously investigated the connection between video game design and cognitive development and helped create skill-building games for Syrian refugee children.

The new book, titled Handbook of Game-Based Learning, was co-edited by Professor Jan L. Plass of New York University and Professor Richard E. Mayer of the University of California, Santa Barbara.

In an age when over 90% of both boys and girls play video games and 95% of American teens are online, educators have become increasingly interested in teaching via digital games. But the new book is also a resource for researchers and students studying cognition, motivation, game design, and technology. While other books on this topic are often based on the authors’ own experience, the new volume is based on empirical evidence and each chapter is authored by experts in the field.

The editors divided the book into four parts. The first introduces game-based learning, and the second covers the psychological foundations of the field. Part three examines the design of effective games, and part four discusses applications of such games, like language learning or workforce training.

Homer contributed to chapter one, on the theoretical foundations of learning through games, and co-authored a chapter on games as playful learning with Ph.D. students Charles Raffaele and Hamadi Henderson. Here they drew from the long history of research on the importance of play in child development and applied those ideas to learning in digital games, Homer said.

“I’m extremely pleased with the final product both as a resource for capturing where we are at the moment and for identifying where we need to go next in building, studying, and learning from digital games,” Homer said.

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Explore This Work

Handbook of Game-Based Learning
MIT Press, 2020

Work By

Bruce Homer (Associate Professor, Educational Psychology) | Profile 1

Colleges and Schools

The Graduate Center