“Why do students leave school? Mostly due to boredom. Yet Nintendo can hold a kid’s interest for six hours. Maybe we are doing something wrong.”~Dr. Tomorrow
All that is missing from Dr. Tomorrow’s quote is #PokemonGo
As a parent I’ve been sharing about how video games can help with special needs since my boys were little when I spent close to a thousand dollars for my then 2 year old special needs son Dakota on something called a Zane Library of computer learning in 1996. Here’s something I wrote in 2002 at our original Cherab support group on Yahoo :
“About gameboy -we started with Nintendo with the Hey You Pikachu game (to encourage speech since you have to talk to Pikachu to get him to do stuff) and now also have PlayStation and GameBoy with tons of games. In general -I wouldn’t recommend starting with GameBoy for little ones since everything is so small. Little kids tend to do better with larger letters or words in books, toys etc. and once they know how to play the games on Play Station and Nintendo -it carries over.
Being a toy inventor – I had heard all the feedback horror stories on how horrible the Nintendo type games are and how they encourage violence -and mindless play. When my oldest son was little I talked to my husband about not getting them for our kids, ever…but when I looked into it after starting with computer games when Dakota was two years old (and after reading Game over: How Nintendo Zapped an American Industry, Captured Your Dollars, and Enslaved Your Children by David Sheff ) -I realized like most things the world’s image of Nintendo type games isn’t really accurate. As a parent of a preschool or even school age child you have control over what games your child plays -so just like TV -stay with the games that are meant for preschool or young children, and limit the time they can play.
I believe that kids have much to learn from Nintendo even outside of hand eye coordination -especially if you have a special needs child. The games can teach math, spelling, reading, science and in addition -they give communication impaired children a way to interact with others without having to worry about speaking.
Sesame Street, Disney and Nickelodeon as well as many other children’s licenses each have a number of titles to both Nintendo, Gameboy and Playstation etc. including but not limited to Blue’s Clues Alphabet Book, Elmo’s 123’s, Elmo’s ABCs, Timon & Pumbaa, Dora the Explorer, Elmo’s Number Journey, Elmo’s Letter Journey, Disney’s Winnie the Pooh Preschool, Disney’s Winnie the Pooh Kindergarten, My Disney Kitchen, and Jim Henson’s Bear in the Big Blue House. To start- look for those games rated Early Childhood (EC) and those that are educational entertainment (or just cute fun) I’m sure we’ll hear more about this type of learning going ahead -children do respond to it -and I credit Tanner’s advanced abilities in math and reading to playing these types of games (among other activities of course) Here is a clip of an interesting article about Nintendo:
“…Why does only one out of every 500 British Columbia students currently complete an education under our present system? Everyone else drops out along the way. Drop-out figures are almost unbelievable: out of 476,000 students, 38 percent drop out before they even enter high school; another 78 percent (of the remaining balance) drop out before entering college, and yet another 75 percent (of the remaining balance) drop out before receiving a university degree and 95 percent of those drop out before completing a PhD. That means that only one-fifth of one percent finish the whole race and get their parent’s money’s worth! That’s not good enough. Why do students leave school? Mostly due to boredom.
Yet Nintendo can hold a kid’s interest for six hours. Maybe we are doing something wrong. Papert believes the key question is “What makes some people become so passionately interested in something?” For the past five years another person has been asking similar questions. He’s not a professor, but a very successful businessman. Jack Taub, founder of the world’s first information utility, The Source, sold for megabucks to Readers’ Digest about six years ago. He is now founder and Chairman of the International Education and Information Utility (yes, just as in water and electrical utilities). He says his creation will make a child, when given the option of going to a theme park or delving into his magical computer world of knowledge, chose the computer. I recently spent some time in New York City with him and will write this story in detail in a future column.
The U.S. Air Force is training pilots and mechanics for sophisticated jet fighters via video games, and is apparently turning out what they want.” ~me in 2002
Formal Introduction To Dr. Tomorrow 14 Years Later
When I wrote that quote in our first online support group for Cherab, (we now mostly use this one even though there are a few others) I just linked to the page I found it from. In 2002 I didn’t realize it was written by the incredible Frank Ogden, broadcaster, author and world famous futurist known as Dr. Tomorrow who was one of the first people to predict that the Internet would come to dominate our lives. The page I referenced in 2002 no longer exists because Dr. Tomorrow passed into the future on Dec 29, 2012 at the age of 92.
But as I am an inventor by trade, I learned today that quote was from Dr. Tomorrow and wanted to write this as a shout out to him as what he wrote resonates in what we are seeing now in 2016. This last line hasn’t yet come true “When the collapse of the present educational institutions come it will come faster than the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. Remember you read it here first”
Logically based on evidence our present educational institutions ‘should’ have collapsed years ago, but clearly some of what is going on with our current educational system isn’t based on evidence or logic, including standardized testing, or logic.
As Sir Ken Robinson says, “The answer is not to standardize education, but to personalize and customize it to the needs of each child and community. There is no alternative. There never was.”
So officially below is the entire page that I took that clip from by Dr. Tomorrow with credit to Dr. Tomorrow as I know that image is probably difficult to read. And below that two studies published back to back on the heels of Pokemon Go’s release to further validate Dr. Tomorrow’s predictions.
Lessons From The Future By Dr. Tomorrow
New Educational Pathway Via Nintendo
“I think the school is an extremely harmful institution”. “I think the schools do more harm than Nintendo”. That’s not me talking, although it sounds like something I might say. They are words from Seymour A. Papert, considered by some as the world’s leading expert on using computers in education. He is the Lego Professor of Learning Research at MIT’s renowned Media Laboratory. What he is saying will be universally accepted in years to come.
Why does only one out of every 500 British Columbia students currently complete an education under our present system? Everyone else drops out along the way. Drop-out figures are almost unbelievable: out of 476,000 students, 38 percent drop out before they even enter high school; another 78 percent (of the remaining balance) drop out before entering college, and yet another 75 percent (of the remaining balance) drop out before receiving a university degree and 95 percent of those drop out before completing a PhD. That means that only one-fifth of one percent finish the whole race and get their parent’s money’s worth! That’s not good enough. Why do students leave school? Mostly due to boredom.
Yet Nintendo can hold a kid’s interest for six hours. Maybe we are doing something wrong. Papert believes the key question is “What makes some people become so passionately interested in something?”
For the past five years another person has been asking similar questions. He’s not a professor, but a very successful businessman. Jack Taub, founder of the world’s first information utility, The Source, sold for megabucks to Readers’ Digest about six years ago. He is now founder and Chairman of the International Education and Information Utility (yes, just as in water and electrical utilities). He says his creation will make a child, when given the option of going to a theme park or delving into his magical computer world of knowledge, chose the computer. I recently spent some time in New York City with him and will write this story in detail in a future column.
The U.S. Air Force is training pilots and mechanics for sophisticated jet fighters via video games, and is apparently turning out what they want.
Professor Papert invented the Logo computer programming language and recently accepted a research grant from Nintendo. He told the Toronto Star; that he “has made no promises to Nintendo, although he does not rule out the possibility of developing educational softwar for it’s game machines.” He adds that schools have failed to stay uptodate in adapting new thechnologies to the classroom. His new goal: to make such classrooms subjects as writing and history as alluring to children as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Super Mario. If you think it all has to do with money, you’re wrong. Canada spends twice as much to educate kids as Japan. Notice the obvious better result by spending less? The 1990 U.S. State Education Performance Chart shows graduation rates still dropping and college entrace exams still dropping, although spending on education is still increasing–21 percent after inflation last year, from $2,726 per student in 1982 to $4,243 in 1988. U.S. Secretary of Educatin Lauro F. Cavazos says “we have to enhance the role of parents as decision-makers.”
Even as I write this column another report comes in electronically from Orland French, education reporter for the Toronto Globe & Mail. He reports that even the Toronto Board of Education has finally realized that something is up. They are now “quizzing students to see why they have turned their backs on traditional classrooms.” One group of students questioned, who probaby wouldn’t be in any school if they hadn’t been attracted to SEED (Shared Experience, Exploration and Discovery). a radically different alternative school located in a downtown Toronto office building eren’t hesitant about giving their opinions: “(school) Buildings…..implies that students are animals and can’t be trusted to respect public propert” and “Student council is really just the dance committee” and has no power: Others felt like many do today in some offices. there, you are always going to meetings, in school they say it’s the same, “always going to assemblies”.
In Canada we spend even more, about $6,000 a year now for high school students. When the collapse of the present educational institutions come it will come faster than the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. Remember you read it here first.”
Gotta Catch Em All -Attention that is!
So close to 15 years after the above was written, the following articles about research for video games to help treat or diagnose autism is off the heels of the release of Pokemon Go and the awareness of how video gaming is helping children in numerous ways even outside of bringing them a smile. It’s taken awhile but more and more are catching on to the resource that is right there to help. Video gaming.
Just Published Study On How Video Games Help Autism
The eyes have it
August 23, 2016
The eyes play a vital role in communication and are thought to influence social behavior. But for children diagnosed with autism, interpreting eye contact is one of the most difficult challenges in social communications.
Suzy Scherf, assistant professor of psychology and head of the Laboratory of Developmental Neuroscience at Penn State, and her research team aim to help autistic adolescents discover how eye gaze provides information about the outside world in a new five-year project funded by the National Institutes of Health.
According to Scherf, diminished attention to faces is one of the earliest behavioral indicators of autism and it persists across the lifespan. “Those diagnosed with autism struggle with social communication, including visual attention to faces and understanding how eye gaze provides important information about the actions and intentions of others,” she said. “Without these important social cues, many people with autism struggle in their social interactions.”
The project is designed to help adolescents ages 10 to 18 discover facial cues on their own via a highly engaging computer game. “Previous autism therapies relied on an awards-based system, in which the therapist would tell the participant what to do and then the participant would receive a reward. But research has shown that in the real world, once you take away the reward, the learning goes away too,” Scherf explained. “Our project allows participants to make their own choices and discover information on their own, making it much more powerful and more likely to be retained.”
The computer game is based on the principles of motivational behavior and invites participants to solve a mystery in a complex storyline. Detectives in the game charge players with chasing a criminal through an underground maze below a Gotham-like city. Throughout their mission, players must rely solely on nonverbal cues from bystanders to lead them through the hazy, low-lit maze to catch the bad guy.
In early levels, game characters will use gross motor cues to direct participants to solve the mystery and move on to the next level. As the levels progress, participants need to watch for and learn to interpret increasingly subtle facial and eye gaze cues.
“We consulted with individuals in the gaming industry and were advised to utilize a web-based, Unity 3D platform so that undergraduate students can easily build and modify the game, including animating the diverse cast of tunnel people, criminals and detectives,” said Scherf. Additionally, the platform ensures that the game can ultimately be played via any Internet-connected device, meaning project participants will be able to play the game primarily from home.
In the first phase of the project, 30 adolescents diagnosed with autism will participate, with 15 participants in the intervention group and 15 serving as the control group. Participants in the intervention group will complete a tutorial in the lab before playing the game in their homes for several 30 minute sessions each week over the course of three months The research team will track daily minutes of game play, behavioral accuracy during the game, completed levels and number of repeated levels. Researchers will also remain in weekly contact with the participants’ parents to monitor progress and troubleshoot any technical difficulties with the game.
In the second phase, the project will be expanded to include 60 adolescents with autism who haven’t participated in the first phase. In both phases, researchers will run both pre- and post-tests using state-of-the-art eye tracking technology to see if there is altered behavior in the way they look at faces and use eye gaze cues to direct their behavior.
Scherf said she is targeting adolescents because it is a potentially vulnerable period of development. “We know that there are changes in the brain and some plasticity during this time, so we are hoping we can re-tune their face processing systems and social looking behaviors in the real world. The hope is that this intervention will alleviate some of the social symptoms of autism and help people with autism function in a more independent way.”
Scherf is one of 37 co-funded faculty members at Penn State’s Social Science Research Institute. Other Penn State support for the project is being provided by the Educational Gaming Commons and the Child Study Center.
Researchers have created a simple phone/tablet game that diagnoses Autism by measuring touch patterns. It was 93% accurate in a study carried out with 37 autistic children.
Another Just Published Study How Video Games Help Diagnose Autism
A Simple Video Game Could Diagnose Autism
By Ross Pomeroy Roughly one out of every 68 children in North America has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a developmental condition broadly characterized by difficulties in social interaction, problems with communication, and repetitive behaviors.
Every ASD diagnosis is a complicated, involved process. The child — who is often between the ages of two and six — undergoes a battery of behavioral evaluations overseen by trained professionals, usually in a clinical setting. He or she is observed and tested, sometimes for lengthy periods. Diagnoses can be equally extended.
But researchers from Jagiellonian University in Poland and the University of Strathclyde in the United Kingdom have a plan to streamline the process. They aim to diagnose autism with a simple game played on a phone or tablet. In a recent study published to the journal Scientific Reports, they took a significant stride towards reaching that goal.
Prior research has hinted that children diagnosed with ASD demonstrate distinct patterns in motor control, particularly with their hands. With this in mind, authors Anna Anzulewicz, Krzysztof Sobota, and Jonathan T. Delafield-Butt recruited 37 children between the ages of three and six years old and matched them with 45 typically-developing controls of equal age at the same gender ratio. One-by-one, each child was brought into a room, sat in front of an iPad mini affixed to a table, and instructed to play two basic games for seven minutes each. The duration was split into two minutes of training followed by five minutes of solo play. (Figure below: One game involved sharing a piece of fruit between four characters. The other game involved tracing and coloring different objects.)
In those short and painless moments, the researchers collected heaps of data on the children’s finger movements extracted via inertial sensors and the tablet’s touchscreen. Machine-learning algorithms subsequently examined the data to determine precise motor patterns associated with ASD. Children with autism touched the screen with more impact force and greater pressure compared to controls. They also swiped faster and tapped the screen more quickly.
Utilizing those touch patterns, the algorithm devised diagnostic criteria for autism based on the children’s gameplay. The criteria successfully identified the autistic children with an impressive 93 percent accuracy. The researchers were elated with the results.
“We have shown here that smart tablet technology offers an attractive, new paradigm for clinical autism assessment… enabling engaging, ecological testing of children’s motor behaviour in a fun, accessible format…” they write.
The study is an exciting proof-of-concept, the researchers say, but more work needs to be done. Next, they aim to test their approach on many more subjects in order to refine the algorithm’s diagnostic criteria and eliminate potential confounding variables.
Source: Anzulewicz, A. et al. Toward the Autism Motor Signature: Gesture patterns during smart tablet gameplay identify children with autism. Sci. Rep. 6, 31107; doi: 10.1038/srep31107 (2016).
That’s All For Now…except
For that second study, how they can tell the difference between apraxia and autism from this game if it’s going off motor planning? A Penn State study found over 60% of kids with autism also have apraxia, which is a motor planning impairment, but one could have apraxia without autism. From the study paper from the journal Nature “New evidence indicates disruption to motor timing and integration may underpin the disorder, providing a potential new computational marker for its early identification.” My son Tanner has apraxia, he does not have autism. The difference between the 2 is that with apraxia the intent is always there to communicate. As I share here apraxia is a spectrum based on a survey of hundreds of parents of children who are diagnosed with apraxia
There is a problem when there is misdiagnosis due to therapies used for treatment. Paging Dr. Tomorrow!