Education sociologist James Coleman is most often remembered for his 1966 report on the Equality of Educational Opportunity – a study that popularized the notion that students’ family backgrounds and peers mattered more for their success than what happened in school and gave new momentum to efforts to desegregate America’s schools.

Few realize that Coleman himself saw that work as a “detour” from his main line of research on how academic games could be used to foster student engagement, effort, and – ultimately – achievement. Why was Coleman so excited about academic games? And could we put his ideas into action today?

In this week’s EdNext podcast, Marty West of EdNext talks with Greg Toppo about academic games and James Coleman’s idea that they could be used to increase motivation and academic performance among teens.

Toppo, national education reporter for USA Today and author of The Game Believes In You, about gaming in American education, has written a new article for Education Next about these issues, “Game Plan for Learning.

The EdNext Podcast is available on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher and here every Wednesday.

—Education Next

Last updated January 27, 2016