David Wlliamson Shaffer
 Associate Professor

Department of Educational Psychology Educational Sciences
University of Wisconsin-Madison

The focus of my research is on professions as models for technology-enhanced education. I use design experiments to explore how computers and videogames make it possible to use techniques from the professions to help students of all ages think and learn in more powerful ways.
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How Computer Games Help Children Learn


In a global economy, children need more than just the basic facts and basic skills that schools still teach. To maintain their competitive edge, industrialized countries like the United States need to produce products, services, and technologies that are new and special, and thus not easily produced across the globe by competitors.

But how and when should children learn the kind of innovative thinking they will need for success in the new, interconnected, high-tech, work-anywhere, just-on-time, on-demand, world of global competition?

The answer is that the problem is also part of the solution. The computer technologies that make global competitors a mouse-click away also make it possible for young people to experience--and thus learn to think about--problems and situations that will prepare them for life in the digital age.

Computer and video games--though games of a very particular sort, called "epistemic games"--can help young people learn the ways of innovation they need to thrive in the digital age.

In this talk, based on a new book, looks at how and why epistemic games can show the way towards a new view of education--one that moves beyond traditional academic disciplines and classroom practices to a new model of learning where children prepare for life in a complex real world by learning through meaningful activity in sophisticated virtual worlds.