Nintendo DS for Education?

Photo of the week:  Nintendo DS for Education?

A young girl uses her Nintendo DS to view and interact with the National Western Stock Show in Denver, January 2012. (Photo / Chris Carruth)

Seeing this young girl use a Nintendo DS to watch and interact with the events at last January’s National Western Stock Show in Denver got me thinking about the merits of using the DS, or a similar device, for mobile education.   Its linking technology easily allows for chatrooms to be created and in these virtual discussion spaces the device excels.   To emphasize this, I’ll reference a Wall Street Journal article from a few years back wherein the WSJ investigated DS usage within Japanese classrooms and found its educational applications relevant and worthwhile.  Furthermore, the broader DS community has done some interesting things in hacking the device and opening up the OS for development and building educational or so called “edutainment” modules.

What do you think?  Is the DS, or a similar handheld platform, a viable vehicle for educational content, testing, and fostering discussion?   What about in the developing world?



2 Responses to “Nintendo DS for Education?”
  1. Neil says:

    Chris, great shot and good article!

    I’m not super-familiar with the DS as I’ve never really used one, but I’m generally skeptical-at-best when it comes to tech-mediated learning when adults can be present and teach face-to-face. (And as an aside, while I like the IDEA of online classrooms, my experience with them hasn’t been exceptionally positive yet…)

    The problem? Just so many distractions. When I was in high school, it was graphing calculator Tetris. Now, it’s Facebook. What’s next? Some new distraction!

    Not that all technology is used as such, or that alternative uses and communities shouldn’t be explored, just generally skeptical of game-based learning (though I’d LOVE to get a PhD while playing an MMO…) ;-)

    Just my 2 cents. You’re always saying how I’m so optimistic… ;)

    • I’m with you on the current unexceptional nature of tech-mediated, teacher-less content, but there’s still a ton of promise with these devices. Basically, even if they’re only to be used as supplemental learning tools, I think that familiarity with these devices coupled with the right amount of “edutainment” can pack quite the punch; why not leverage technologies available and familiar to learners (in this case, gaming devices for kids)?

      As far as being a distraction, can I assume you mean jumping from a chat session or other learning module to a game/browser? As I understand it, the hacked and home-brewed OS’s can curb unwanted behavior somewhat, but you’re right in that there will always be something. And that, mon ami, is an issue of classroom/student management and not so much content delivery ;)


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