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“Cell phone learning can make a difference” – Matthew Kam on a game-based approach for English learning in India

Posted on February 27, 2009 by

mobgame1Matthew Kam, an Assistant Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, speaks about his recent doctoral dissertation research in Indian communities and designing E-Learning games for children from other cultural backgrounds. His MILLEE (Mobile and Immersive Learning for Literacy in Emerging Economies) project was funded by the National Science Foundation and has won several awards, including one from the MacArthur Foundation.

Babbel Blog: Why do you think E-Learning games on cell phones can provide a learning benefit?

MK: The case for games for education has been made from two very different angles. One would be the theoretical angle, the other the empirical angle. From the theoretical point of view, educational researchers like James Paul Gee argued that games could incorporate very good educational principles. There have been studies on the empirical level which support this claim. The most useful study that we found was done by a team of MIT economists who studied a group of children from the urban slums in India – more than 10,000 slum children were involved in that experiment carried out over more than two years. They found that kids playing mathematical E-Learning games two times per week improved their scores on math tests. That was by far the strongest evidence so far that games have an impact for education. We thought, when mathematical games can make a difference, you should be able to achieve the same kind of benefits with language-learning games too. That is the whole motivation behind our game-based approach.
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