Alan November, June 16, 2017, eSchool News.

Instead of rewarding students for how many problems they solve, here’s what schools should be focusing on instead.

If you told me that students as young as first grade can learn to solve complex linear equations—an algebraic concept that generally isn’t taught until the seventh or eighth grade—in as little as 90 minutes, I would shake my head in disbelief. According to researcher and game designer Dr. Zoran Popovic, I would be wrong. In an experiment with huge implications for student success, he found this was entirely possible, provided that students are immersed in the right kind of learning ecosystem.

Popovic is the director of game science at the University of Washington. He’s best known for designing games that crowdsource scientific discoveries. For instance, Foldit is an online puzzle game in which players try their hand at folding complex protein structures—and their successes have given scientists a deeper understanding of biochemistry principles.

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