SimCityEDU: Learning What Games Can Do

Way back in June we wrote about GlassLab’s partnership with Pearson and Electronic Arts and their collective efforts to develop a game-based learning product out of SimCity.

Well, GlassLab launched the first edition of this hugely anticipated super game earlier in November. Called SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge! The game puts learners in contact with a hugely effective way of understanding the nature, impact and solution options of environmental issues, whilst it also promotes (and provides assessment upon) their problem solving skills, ability to communicate the relationships that exist between complex systems, and their ability to read and interpret various forms of texts and diagrams.

What this represents is the future. Plain and simple. A superbly put together game franchise (with an established global presence) is having its potential unlocked for the benefit and exploration of learners in US middle schools. What this is helping to demonstrate (in eltjam’s slightly pessimistic opinion) is that the best learning resources are not designed for or by educators. The best learning resources are those that are designed for fun, enjoyment, exploration and imagination. The learning part happens once everyone’s well and truly involved.

SimCityELT, anyone?

2 thoughts on “SimCityEDU: Learning What Games Can Do”

  1. I agree that the best learning materials are not designed by educators. However, they are sometimes debased by educators!

    To be honest, I don’t see why this ‘educational’ version of Sim City is necessary. The source game is already educational, and covers things such as pollution. What this version seems to do is take one aspect of the game and minimize all the rest, so I guess the kids aren’t dealing with pollution while also trying to reduce crime and keep taxes low… but isn’t that very complexity exactly what makes each problem challenging?

    Why don’t we have War and Peace EDU: The Napoleonic Challenge! or Citizen Kane EDU: Build a Newspaper Empire? It it because the source material is already interesting and engages us with those topics, while also offering rich complexity as well? A good teacher can and should guide learners through each of these works, including Sim City, and get students to focus on particular issues along the way.

    I’m all for gaming in education, just as I am for film and literature. Some works may even require a bit of adaptation for the classroom (language level is an obvious one in ELT) but I’m not convinced that Sim City is one of those.


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