The objective of this research paper is to describe more recent theories of learning in contrast with the traditional approach, explain the need for teaching aids, and then study in detail a recent addition to the educational market – educational computer programs - by looking into why and how they can be effective as teaching tools/aids. It will also publish the provisional results of an ongoing study that is being conducted on the effectivity of one particular educational computer game in enhancing classroom learning.
In India, educational psychology as a field has still not gained much popularity. Its use is often limited to the teaching of the child with learning disabilities. While this usage is commendable, its confinement to such areas reflects the popular opinion that the existing education system is good enough for the scholastic instruction of the masses. However, a brief analysis of the traditional theories of learning and its inherent drawbacks will show that such complacency is ill founded.
The more recent theories of learning approach education from a much broader perspective, taking into account factors that were previously considered irrelevant, or unimportant, to the acquiring of new information. The methods of imparting education have also changed accordingly – teaching aids have become an integral part of good classroom practices. The types and effectivity of such teaching aids vary greatly. Among the more recent ones is educational gaming. These are very popular with children for obvious reasons; educators and parents, however, may not be as enthusiastic about letting a child 'learn' through a computer game. However, these games are a lot more effective than they realize.
This research paper takes 'JumpStart 3D Virtual World – Trouble in Town', a product of Knowledge Adventure, a leading educational gaming company, as an example of a good educational computer game and analyses its attributes that are conducive to learning, keeping the more recent theories of education in mind. Finally, it publishes the results of a study that is being conducted on students who have played this game to see to what extent such games can contribute to classroom learning.
Traditional Teaching Methodology and Why it Wont Work
“The atmosphere of an ideal school should be so attractive and natural that the children may themselves like to spend much of their time there. Such an atmosphere can be available only when the teaching methods, devices and materials are organized on psychological lines. Indian primary schools do not have suitable teachers and appropriate teaching materials. Hence, they have failed to provide a suitable atmosphere for attracting young children. The cruel and unpsychological behaviour of teachers and harsh corporal punishment force many children to leave the school in the middle of the session. Suitable teaching materials are not organized due to paucity of funds and ignorance. Most teaching methods emphasize cramming. The students are seldom encouraged to participate in educational activities. The basic education scheme has not been implemented in any real sense.”[i]
Most of these problems are rather common, experienced by children going to school in rural as well as urban India. In fact, problems in the Indian education system are so prevalent, and worthy of attention, that any book on social problems in India would include a section on it. One such book lists the following among the problems in the Indian educational scene – large amounts of illiteracy, high drop out rates among elementary school kids, inability to pass final year examinations due to faulty methods of education and poor quality of teaching, greater emphasis on academic and theoretical education that is unrelated to everyday practical aspects of the world, and the dearth of trained teachers.[ii] While these are problems that any lay man would be able to point out, an experienced professional in the field of...