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Nintendo DS in Classrooms to Help Japanese Schoolkids Find the Square Root of Mario

Nintendo DS in school

Ninteno's guru Shigeru Miyamoto has just revealed that Nintendo might be aiming at a surprising new market for its games consoles: Schools. With all the controversy about distractions and violence, is this sensible?

Miyamoto's words came during an interview with the AP. While dodging questions about the future of the Wii, and how he thinks about competitor consoles (particularly relevant now Sony's PlayStation Move is on the way) he noted that getting Nintendo products in use in an educational environment may be the area in which he's most expending his efforts. The DS console, in its various variants, is already in use in Japanese museums and other publicly-visited venues, and that a roll out in "junior high and elementary schools in Japan" will start in the new school year later in 2010.

What exactly would kids use the devices for though? The aim really has to be for interactive educational purposes—very probably with dedicated software that, perhaps, a whole class works through at once, under a teacher's supervision. The right kind of app could also work well as interactive homework, even including a pop-quiz, with results that the school collects up electronically the next day.

Nintendo will have to adjust the hardware carefully though, so its incompatible with the plethora of games available for the DS. I don't know how disciplined the average Japanese school kid is...but my peers at these sort of school ages would have found the potential gaming options a huge distraction, and the electronic homework would come last in the priority list. And I'm sure Mario would've made an appearance in class too, if they thought they could get away with it. There're also a few privacy issues to ponder on—let's not forget the apparently illegal and desperately big-brother behavior of that Pennsylvania school recently, when it turned on Webcams on school laptops to monitor kids activities at home. And there's even a technology addiction angle to think on—our society is so bedazzled with tech, that integrating it so firmly into school kids lives may not be all that much of a good thing.

[School image via Flickr user anijdam]

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