Games of Life
Professor Kurt Squire is fascinated by the potential computer games have for enriching young minds. Early in his career, he used commercially available games to engage students in sophisticated academic exercises. The impact was remarkable. “We saw a greater affinity for school, an increased sense of belonging, changes in grades and far more interest in a wide range of subjects,” he recalls. When Squire observed the positive effects of computer gaming, his instincts told him to put students in the driver’s seat. “We developed ways to help onboard kids from playing games for learning to making games for learning,” he explains. Determined to “support them and then get out of their way,” he created a novel platform that enables students and teachers to create their own learning tools.
Tear Down that Wall
Squire is determined to remove barriers that prevent young people from acquiring knowledge, connecting with each other and co-creating new vehicles for learning. That includes dissolving a literal barrier: classroom walls. “We wanted to push the idea of grassroots communities where people across the world could work together to build new learning resources,” he says. As a result, young people on three continents have used the platform to create thousands of new games. Today, Squire is pushing the envelope even further, designing and developing (with colleagues at MIT) one of the first augmented reality games.
Networkers of the World, Unite
He has also built a network of universities focused on showing educational technology publishers how a game-based curriculum can succeed commercially. Case in point: Squire’s team has launched more than a dozen games in the marketplace. “The most rewarding thing,” he says, “is knowing I am empowering people who will go on to do even better work than I can do.”