Bushnell: Cloud computing will improve education

Atari founder says new technology can be harnessed for learning

Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari, strongly believes that cloud gaming technology will massively improve education.

"I've been working on an education project for about 10 years now," said Bushnell, speaking at the Cloud Gaming Conference USA, "and it turns out that educating children and computers go together."

"If you go into a class of fifth graders - say there's 30 of them - and they all have computers, I guarantee you that 10-15 per cent of these computers do not work. They're virus infected nightmares. Every time you have a company that has 30-40 computers, the system's administration of all those computers is a nightmare."

Bushnell cites the reason for this being that children are naturally curious and will inadvertently break the computers. "Does that mean you're a bad kid? No. It means you're just messing with the system which is what we're genetically programmed to do."

This wouldn't be an issue on the cloud, Bushnell notes. "In cloud gaming you disconnect the system's administration from the computer to the cloud... It's going to be an important step for allowing technology into the classroom."

Bushnell added that he's been testing software for years to improve education. "We've been in hundreds of classroom with 40,000 kids. We are currently teaching subjects 10 times faster. We believe that when we roll this up to full curriculum we'll be able to teach a full career of high school in less than a year. And we think we'll be able to do that by the end of next year."

"That's a lot of time to chase girls and have fun," he joked.

Freeing up leisure time is only a small part of Bushnell's overall goal. He finds the real issue in America to be much graver.

"Our public school is a disaster," he said, adding "It's creating an underclass that will erode the foundation of our society. The kids who happen to have won the lottery and been born to rich parents can survive. The parents make sure the kids are either in private school or something. The kids who have lost the lottery are being put into schools with dysfunctional teachers."

His solution to use software in conjunction with teachers will benefit everyone, stating, "If we can have a kid learn twice as fast we can pay teachers twice as much."

"I believe education is the most important thing that we can do to fix the world."

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Latest comments (7)

Torgeir Hagland Sr Programmer, Gaikai Inc.10 years ago
Careful Nolan, all public schools are not crap and all private schools are not great.
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Bernard Parker Studying game design, Full Sail University10 years ago
Bad news for Norton Antivirus!
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Antony Cain Lecturer, Teesside University10 years ago
Ahhhhh silly me... teaching faster means better teaching. Zero punctuation teaching for my students next week!

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Antony Cain on 8th September 2011 6:30pm

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Show all comments (7)
Jeremy Glazman Programmer 10 years ago
@Antony He said kids were learning twice as fast with computer-aided teaching, and so it follows that teachers end up teaching twice as much as they were previously in that span of time. You don't agree that kids learning twice as fast means the teaching is better?

Obviously this article is very vague about the methods and the results, but I'd be very surprised if you, as a game dev lecturer, don't see any value of computers in the classroom.
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Antony Cain Lecturer, Teesside University10 years ago
I'd be very surprised too, but I didn't get near saying that. I'm just referring to the sweeping "We are currently teaching subjects 10 times faster" statement, which is just crazy if it's in anywhere near the same sort of setting I work in.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Antony Cain on 8th September 2011 9:58pm

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Falko Boecker Licensing Manager, Gamigo AG10 years ago
Wow, ten times faster. In ten years Bushnell will stick a spike in the back of your head and you will wake up seconds later saying "I know Kung-Fu". ;-)

I'm pretty sure though computers can be used to teach certain things much more effectively, faster and easier to understand, than writing them on a black board. Still the 10-times faster-quote seems to be a little weird.
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Rick Cody PBnGames-Board Member 10 years ago
He didn't even mention how cloud computers are massively cheaper.
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