At a presentation at New York University yesterday, Craig Mundie, Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) head of research and strategy, paced back and forth in front of a PowerPoint presentation. It was a pretty flat display for the fast-moving, multidimensional product he was proposing.
Along with several east coast colleges, Microsoft is backing a $3 million effort to move videogames into K-12 classrooms.
The initiative, whose participants also include Columbia University, City University of New York, Dartmouth College, Parsons, Polytechnic Institute of N.Y.U., the Rochester Institute of Technology, and Teachers Colleges, will spend the money to research the most effective way young people learn by playing video and computer games in an effort to boost slumping math and science scores in the U.S.
According to the press release: "Video games, with their popularity and singular ability to engage young people, are showing promise as a way to excite and prepare the Net generation...This generation, though well-versed in using technology...is continuing a decline in proficiency and interest in math and sciences--the very skills needed to prepare them for the new demands and requirements for the 21st century."
Mundie showed off a couple examples of different learning tools on a giant screen onstage, including a program that lets you map the Milky Way to another that looks inside the human body.
As for paving the way for the gaming industry into schools, Microsoft is kicking $1.5 million towards the initiative with the universities pitching in a collective $1.5 million.
The initial game prototypes will be developed over the next year, then introduced into about a dozen to two dozen New York City schools, both private and public. Mayor Bloomberg's office is not involved in any official capacity.
Microsoft's goal is to eventually develop the games in all grade levels across the country, starting with kindergarten.