Games Will Change Everything

Games (and other smart adaptive learning media) will be part the core instructional program for most kids in a few years because they are:

  • Adaptive: continuous performance assessment identifies and targets a student’s instructional level and provides instant feedback–it’s personalized learning;
  • Engaging: good games use creative media to teach key instructional skills (rather than using learning tasks as gateways to more fun)–it’s fun;
  • Motivating: good games build persistence through increasingly levels of challenge and incorporate a variety of reward and recognition systems–it’s addictive.

Other learning media that are incorporating game-like elements include simulations and virtual learning environments.  These are currently most common in supplemental learning but will increasingly be incorporated into core curriculum and will populate next gen learning platforms (i.e., learning objects, learner profiles, smart recommendation engines, learning communities, and aligned services).
Development incentives have been weak but promising experiments with freemium platforms with subscriptions for premium content and related analytics will lead to increased investment.  Lagging tax receipts and tight budgets are also increasing interest in technology produced productivity.
Education is a generation behind consumer games and military simulations but the sector is poised to make up a little ground in the next 36 months with a new generation of personalized digital learning tools.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Amit Shah

Could I get permission from you (via an e-mail) that would allow me to use this blog entry, referenced to you and your organization, in sales material for Zulama's game-based courses?

John Danner

Having just spend a day with Robert Torres, who's school Quest to Learn is all about play, I could not agree more. I was so excited after hearing this approach that I wanted to write a learning game on the spot. Check them out at


Tom Vander Ark

Quest is a very cool design. Met with Katie Salen, Institute of Play, a year ago when she was planning it. Need to visit soon.

Karthikeyan R

..particularly like the point on it being engaging. So true, there is a difference between, "doing" and "experiencing"

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