Mathematics Education for a New Era: Video Games as a Medium for Learning

Join Keith Devlin in a question and answer session about his math game projects and the new book.

Full recording: audio, text chat, slides, web tour.

How to join

  • Follow this link at the time of the event:
  • Monday, April 11th 2011 we will meet in the LearnCentral online room at 5:00pm Pacific, 8:00pm Eastern time. WorldClock for your time zone.
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About the book

Stanford mathematician and NPR Math Guy Keith Devlin explains why, fun aside, video games are the ideal medium to teach middle-school math. Aimed primarily at teachers and education researchers, but also of interest to game developers who want to produce videogames for mathematics education, Mathematics Education for a New Era: Video Games as a Medium for Learning describes exactly what is involved in designing and producing successful math educational videogames that foster the innovative mathematical thinking skills necessary for success in a global economy.

Keith writes in his March 2011 MAA column:
One problem with the majority of math ed video games on the market today that will quickly strike anyone who takes a look, is that they are little more than a forced marriage of video game technology and traditional mathematics pedagogy. In particular, the player of such a game generally encounters the math in symbolic form, often by way of a transparent screen overlay on top of the gameworld.
But video-game worlds are not paper-and-pencil symbolic representations; they are imaginary worlds. They are meant to be lived in and experienced. Putting symbolic expressions in a math ed game environment is to confuse mathematical thinking with its static, symbolic representation on a sheet of paper. It's like the early would-be aviators who tried to fly by building ornithopters - machines that added flapping wings to four-wheeled cycles. Those pioneers confused flying with the only instances of flying which they had observed - birds and insects. Humans achieved flying only when they went back to basics and analyzed the notion of flying separately from the one particular implementation they were familiar with. Similarly, to build truly successful math ed video games, we have to separate the activity of doing mathematics, which is a form of thinking, from its familiar representation in terms of symbolic expressions.

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Event Host

KeithDevlin.jpgDr. Keith Devlin is a co-founder and Executive Director of the university's H-STAR institute, a co-founder of the Stanford Media X research network, and a Senior Researcher at CSLI. He is a World Economic Forum Fellow and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His current research is focused on the use of different media to teach and communicate mathematics to diverse audiences. He also works on the design of information/reasoning systems for intelligence analysis. Other research interests include: theory of information, models of reasoning, applications of mathematical techniques in the study of communication, and mathematical cognition. He has written 30 books and over 80 published research articles. Recipient of the Pythagoras Prize, the Peano Prize, the Carl Sagan Award, and the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics Communications Award. In 2003, he was recognized by the California State Assembly for his "innovative work and longtime service in the field of mathematics and its relation to logic and linguistics." He is "the Math Guy" on National Public Radio.