2007 July 22 Sunday
Games Train For SAT And Other Tests

The SAT test preparation industry demonstrates how more education ought to get done: with entertainment and automation.

Test-prep giant Kaplan has paired up with publisher TOKYOPOP to offer a series of manga novels (Japanese-style comics). Released earlier this month, each of three popular stories was rewritten to include more than 300 words commonly tested on the SAT and ACT. (Cost: $9.99.)

"Van Von Hunter" stars a raven-haired hero who vanquishes evil in the land of Dikay. In just the first few pages, you'll find words like "inviolable," "nefarious," and "subvert." Underlined words are de­­fined in a box on the same page.

"By having the combination of the visual story and the words popping out on the page, students can ... really retain the words, versus just memorizing a list," says Kristen Campbell, Kaplan's national director of SAT and ACT programs in New York. With librarians and even classroom teachers tapping into this popular genre, she says, it made sense to add it to the test-prep options.

If a CD can help rapidly boost vocabulary tests doesn't that suggest that software can both more effectively and more rapidly boost educational productivity than more teachers or higher paid teachers?

Vocabulary Accelerator, by Defined Mind Inc. in New York, serves up rock, hip-hop, and R&B songs on a CD with a workbook of related exercises (www.defmind.com, $25 for the set). One ninth-grade teacher reported that after just a few weeks of incorporating the program into her lessons, her class's average score on vocabulary quizzes went up from 40 to 84 percent.

We need games and other software that teaches and tests for a much wider range of subjects. We also need ways for high school students to earn college credits in a variety of subjects by taking tests online. We need to speed up and lower the cost of education. Make it easy for kids to learn at any time and any speed rather than when classes get held and at the rate at which classes get held.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 July 22 11:11 PM  Education


Comments
tommy said at July 23, 2007 3:32 PM:

We need games and other software that teaches and tests for a much wider range of subjects. We also need ways for high school students to earn college credits in a variety of subjects by taking tests online. We need to speed up and lower the cost of education. Make it easy for kids to learn at any time and any speed rather than when classes get held and at the rate at which classes get held.

Agreed.

Mensarefugee said at July 23, 2007 10:01 PM:

Ive wondered about incorporating math and basic engineering principles in an FPS game. Who knows? Might sell like crazy!

beowulf said at July 23, 2007 10:18 PM:

You're right. Inevitably the US military is a generation ahead of the education establishment.

The Pentagon designed a video game to teach soldiers Arabic (and the Army also provides soldiers free access to off the shelf Rosetta Stone software). Further, Uncle Sam has been tackling the Two Sigma Problem (tutored children score far higher on achievement tests than students in classrooms) for years by using Intelligent Tutoring Systems and conducting research to monitor sailors' mental state (via EEG and biofeedback tools) as they sit in front of a computer. This enables the computer to determine if the serviceman is missing an answer because he can't grasp a concept or simply because his mind if wandering.

Even without the use of technology, the Navy's Officer Candidate School goes through the ROTC academic curriculum (equivalent to eight 3 hour college classes, ranging from naval engineering to military law) in 12 weeks. I'm not a vet, so I'm not sure how the Navy schedules the classes. I imagine its block scheduling-- learning one or two subjects full time for a couple of weeks then moving on. But unless ROTC students are learning too much or OCS candidates are learning too little, the Navy has found a more efficient way for OCS candidates to absorb information than a hour long class twice a week college schedule.

Mensarefugee said at July 24, 2007 3:27 AM:

Btw Fred Reed has an article on the same topic here.

IvyBound Girl said at July 24, 2007 2:58 PM:

I think a lot of "adults" miss the point that teens don't really enjoy these kinds of products. I'm sure everyone in ther research department thought it would be brilliant but how many students actually use these? I think interactive programs that improve on the boring classroom experience are probably much more effective. I tried a lot of books and an online course and found the latter to be much more helpful.

John Smith said at July 25, 2007 8:23 PM:

Look to Ray Kurzweil and Singularitarianism for the realization that teaching is only one of the first few positions that will become automated. More jobs will be as Artificial Intelligence advances.


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