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Nintendo Developing DS Apps For School Systems

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the not-quite-swords-into-ploughshares dept.

Education 40

MojoKid writes "Shigeru Miyamoto, who has had a hand in some of Nintendo's most popular titles, recently offered that he is working hard to turn Nintendo's DS line of handheld gaming machines into tools for schools. The DS already has a nice line of educational software titles that help users learn, and he thinks that this could really be a huge benefit to schools looking for alternative ways to educate students of a new generation. The company has already managed to get them into Japanese elementary schools."

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A Nigger Joke is First Post! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31555498)

Why don't black kids ever play in sandboxes? The cats keep trying to bury them.

Everyone... (1)

lenroc (632180) | more than 4 years ago | (#31555540)

I'm not sure I see how this would help Nintendo. Doesn't every school-age kid already have a DS? It sure seems that way among all the kids I've seen lately...

Maybe if the school versions were remotely monitored? The teacher could use a DSi XL to view 93% more students!

Re:Everyone... (4, Informative)

carlzum (832868) | more than 4 years ago | (#31555680)

It helps Nintendo because every school-age kid has a DS. They're familiar with the system and interface, so basic typing and computer skills aren't a prerequisite for the software. The platform seems perfect for class use, and it's low cost and easy to support. Like you said, every kid has one. A model for schools would open a whole new market for the DS.

Re:Everyone... (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31555826)

It also helps Nintendo as it's ANOTHER market for them to develop, grow, make money off. It's what the entertainment industry SHOULD be doing as a whole - "Hmmmm, how else could we look at making money..." rather than "Lets try to sue people because our business model is no longer making money..."

RIAA (and all you similar minded corps) take note of this brash concept - update and improve your business models!

Side note: Way to go Nintendo!

Oblig. XKCD (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31555688)

Oblig. XKCD []

GOATSE WARNING! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557838)

This is your official GOATSE WARNING to all those half asleep. I hadn't even had my coffee yet and didn't want anyone else to be scared awake.

I'm surprised it took this long (3, Insightful)

Judinous (1093945) | more than 4 years ago | (#31555576)

The fact that this hasn't been pushed for before is rather surprising. The DS has been one of the most cost-effective digital kanji dictionaries for years. It costs about half as much as most comparable touch-screen devices and, obviously, it has other uses as well. It's right at the top of the list of tools for non-native speakers trying to learn Japanese, so it seems only natural that it would be at home in Japanese classrooms as well.

Re:I'm surprised it took this long (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31555644)

This is true. Honestly, the only thing holding me back from supporting this is the same thing that has irritated me about the use of Windows and Macintosh computers in schools for ages now - schools are supposed to be places of learning. Having something in them which you're legally forbidden to learn about is... contradictory.

Re:I'm surprised it took this long (2, Insightful)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 4 years ago | (#31555754)

I think the bigger problem was that digital tools weren't integrated in the curriculum, they were always kind of gimmick.

Re:I'm surprised it took this long (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31555794)

It's an ideal platform for language-learning software in general. The portability, quick suspend mode, touch screen, speakers, and microphone make it perfectly suited to the task.

Unfortunately, the only software of the sort that I've seen is the (if I recall the title correctly) "My [language name here] Tutor" line, which is limited to (AFAIK) four languages and--at least for French--sucks. They're not nearly as good as Rosetta Stone (not even in the same ballpark), they (again, extrapolating from the French one) contain significant errors at very low levels which make them poor tools for beginners, and they don't cover material that's difficult or complete enough for advanced learners.

I'd pay good money for Rosetta Stone Portable (or whatever) on the device, but I don't think anything like that exists.

I heard that Rosetta Stone sucked too (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#31556658)

Namely that it's marketed to get you good at a language but even if you go through all three levels, you may have attained 15% fluency. I used it only a few hours - does anybody have more experience?

Re:I heard that Rosetta Stone sucked too (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31559414)

It's better than anything else I've seen. You still need a lot of grammar and listening/speaking study outside of it, but it's good for vocabulary building and basic sentence structure.

Re:I'm surprised it took this long (1)

magus_melchior (262681) | more than 4 years ago | (#31558388)

They tried edutainment stuff in the early days of the Famicom and NES, but these failed to take off nearly as well as the games. IMO it's not surprising that they'd be cautious in going down the road that burned them before-- and Miyamoto would know, he was there back in those days.

Another possibility is that they wanted to see what the market would do before moving in with their own ideas.

Mario teaches typing (1)

Spazed (1013981) | more than 4 years ago | (#31555600)

I just want another Mario Teaches Typing.

Re:Mario teaches typing (1)

OrangeCatholic (1495411) | more than 4 years ago | (#31555664)

They will never teach typing in school because it's far too useful for the general population. If everybody knew how to type, then any ol' high school grad could make $14/hr. Ho! Watch college enrollment drop right off.

They will never teach how to drive a car or money management. They will never teach resumes or job interview. They will never teach physical fitness or weight training. They will never teach oil change or tire rotation. These are all "electives."

They will never teach speech or diction. If you can talk, great. Good for you. They will never teach foreign languages. (What's known as "Spanish class" is for doing math homework.) They stopped teaching algebra already. Otherwise they would still have kids remember it by 11th grade.

They will never teach how to write, because there's just no time, Jim. Hand cramps for everybody. They will never teach teamwork because it's far too complicated.

They teach history, physics, and animal dissection. Interesting choices those.

Re:Mario teaches typing (1)

Omniscient Lurker (1504701) | more than 4 years ago | (#31555716)

If everyone could type then the large supply of labor would drive the salary of type heavy occupations down.

Re:Mario teaches typing (1)

ChinggisK (1133009) | more than 4 years ago | (#31555742)

Wha? They taught me every one of those things, the only exceptions being oil change and tire rotation.

Re:Mario teaches typing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31555816)

You're crazy. My high school taught me type, taught algebra from 6th on, had special classes for correcting speech, and demanded cursive writing for all hand written assignments. Some high schools offer French as well as Spanish. I live in a poor, white rural area.

Call it a "Macintosh" (1)

OrangeCatholic (1495411) | more than 4 years ago | (#31555636)

They should call the Nintendo DS a "Macintosh" and say that it has all kinds of educational software. They will get loads of sales to schools.

That strategy kept Apple afloat for two decades before they invented the iPod.

Just make sure the 'DS comes with WYSIWG text editor, and a primitive paint program with a brick tileset and "spraypaint" brush. Bonus points if they revert to black and white.

Re:Call it a "Macintosh" (3, Interesting)

rworne (538610) | more than 4 years ago | (#31555698)

From what I remember of the "old days" dealing with my high school's foray into teaching basic computing... excuse me... BASIC computing.

They planned on getting a full class of 30 or so students instead of the 6 or so that were supported by a TRS-80 model III and an apple II and an Apple II+.

The school got a shipment of 20+ Atari 800's with floppy drives. They sat in a closet for an entire year because the district refused to let the school use them. Why? When they heard "Atari" they thought 2600 VCS and videogames and could not comprehend that Atari also made computers.

This kind of closed-minded thinking will also kill off any idea of using the DS as an educational tool in the school districts.

There's a standard bargain in place (1)

xant (99438) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557924)

Nowadays there's a standard bargain in place that should make it easier to get something like this through.

The school administrators will give the students gaming machines, and in return will get to look at the students naked [] .

The DS comes with a camera, so there should be no problems pitching this problem to school perverts^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hadministrators.

Re:Call it a "Macintosh" (1)

cmonkey_1973 (844398) | more than 4 years ago | (#31559126)

Sorry to put a dampener on your scepticism but here in Scotland, with the help of some fairly vocal and very talented teachers, we're getting some genuine momentum going. Official support from Nintendo is great news. Find out more here if you're actually interested: []

Re:Call it a "Macintosh" (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31556572)

Just make sure the 'DS comes with WYSIWG text editor, and a primitive paint program with a brick tileset and "spraypaint" brush. Bonus points if they revert to black and white.

DSOrganize, which needs a homebrew card, is disturbingly close to what you describe. It's too bad Nintendo has been suing to stop the sale of DS homebrew cards.

If Miyamoto is involved (4, Interesting)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31555650)

Normally, I laugh off reports like this. But if Miyamoto says he's doing it, I give it a high probability of working. The guy is a damn genius. And seeing he did the impossible and brought old people into gaming with titles like Wii Sports, I think he may even actually pull off an educational game that's worth a damn.

Re:If Miyamoto is involved (2, Interesting)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31555658)

Honestly, the DS already has a ton of educational titles that are worth a damn. It is a full on genre on the DS.

Nintendo, for f**k sakes.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31555666)

I didn't buy a DS to read a f**king cook book on it. I bought it to play VIDEO GAMES. I want to play n+ and ninja around killer robots. I want to play Peggle and other fun games. :D

More cuddly, but still proprietary (4, Insightful)

Statecraftsman (718862) | more than 4 years ago | (#31555702)

Nintendo is a company dear to many of our hearts since many of us are nostalgic for their early games. They've continued to innovate in game play and still provide a lot of pleasure in leisure time. That being said, they are only rivaled by Apple in their record of locking down their proprietary systems. In gaming, it's not a big deal but in education, it's another story.

In education, we need to avoid putting up artificial walls where they needn't exist. Children should be free to explore as long as they're not a danger to themselves or others. That's why free software is essential in education. It encourages cooperation, learning, and exploration. I fear that Nintendo is going to continue to lock down their systems when they're used in an educational setting and if that's the case, we should skip it. There's nothing worse than a teacher having to answer a question with, "That's just the way Nintendo made it I guess."

Re:More cuddly, but still proprietary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31555730)

I agree - it would be way better for them to answer said question with "That's just the way Redhat makes it I guess."

Re:More cuddly, but still proprietary (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 4 years ago | (#31555732)

Help me out here. And what is the bad part about not having the source-code of a program that let's say, teaches math? I love open source as much as the next slashdotter but I don't see your point here. Nintendo is known for the 'it works' way of developing software. It just works and it works great. I can't come with a single from nintendo inhouse that really sucks and I see no reason to think their educational software will be any different.

Re:More cuddly, but still proprietary (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 4 years ago | (#31555736)

Forgot a couple words, sorry: I can't come up with a single game...

Re:More cuddly, but still proprietary (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31556106)

Forgot a couple words, sorry: I can't come up with a single game...

Proofreading is hard.

Re:More cuddly, but still proprietary (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31556260)

Trolling is easy.

Re:More cuddly, but still proprietary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31556204)

It's more like having a library than a core class. It's about empowering students to explore if they want, not making them have to get it working themselves.

A library isn't strictly necessary to learn the core skills, but a school without one (or at least one within easy walking distance) would be a pretty sucky school.

Nintendo is much more proprietary than Apple (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31556580)

That being said, they are only rivaled by Apple in their record of locking down their proprietary systems

Not even Apple is a rival. Apple compares more to Microsoft; in fact, the iPhone developer program was a dead ringer for XNA Creators Club on the Xbox 360. Nintendo won't let you in unless you're an established company with a "secure business location" (specifically not a home office) and a published commercial title on another platform (citation [] ).

Re:More cuddly, but still proprietary (1)

cheesewire (876598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31558238)

And that said, I would still welcome Nintendo/Apple to come in and make ripples in the educational software market with wide open arms.

Because right now educational software, at least in primary schools, sure as hell could use someone to come in and figure out how to make it "just work", with good intuitive interfaces. While I'm sure there's good edu software out there somewhere, it sure wasn't in any of the primary schools I've seen in the last few years. Heck, Apple and a blown-up iPhone OS could be revolutionary compared to the current "interactive whiteboards" that seem to now be in every classroom of the land.

How about programming? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 4 years ago | (#31556736)

Do they plan to release a programming language? That is part of what made TI calculators so popular. Nintendo could learn from that model. (Well, before TI DRM'd them)

Beware "Edutainment" (1)

Huntr (951770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557066)

It's a noble cause, but there are questions [] as to whether or not Brain Age and its ilk work as advertised. Some [] have found success in improving math scores. Still, results are inconclusive [] . Given how strapped our schools are for cash right now, it's hard see them snapping up a bunch of DS' and software for questionable benefits.

Re:Beware "Edutainment" (1)

skids (119237) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557266)

It's not that it can't be done, it's that it can't be done unless you actually test the effectiveness of the software and apply the results of those tests towards making a better product.

We need a certification board for this sort of stuff. Some sort of program that tests software that claims to teach on actual students (in those special schools where teachers get "hands on training"), and also has cognitive scientists and educational professionals evaluate the software by a set of well-thought-out metrics.

The result would be a rating like the ESRB, but it would be nice if the organization also rated non-educational titles with a blind eye towards stuff the ESRB already covers -- though that part probably would not involve testing on students :-)

Seriously? (1)

sunfly (1248694) | more than 4 years ago | (#31558902)

From a business perspective, why hasn't Nintendo already chased the education market?

But seriously, it is 2010, how about a device that has reasonable screen real estate and operating system?

We can build much better devices, even at a reasonable cost. Let us start with a screen big enough to read something on, at least 5" if not bigger. Second we need a programmable OS to run on these, Android, Win 7 new mobile OS, New Palm, even an apple tablet.

A couple years ago I would have thought great. Today I would be really upset if my school district spent my tax dollars on this.

Don't think education software (1)

tbuskey (135499) | more than 4 years ago | (#31571506)

A DSi: Graphical device with touch screen, WiFi, Web Browser, 2 Cameras, SD card, Custom Cartridge. Does it have IR? Some kind of external port?

There was a embroidery sewing machine that used a GameBoy Color + custom cartridge as its computer. Many sewers back then (1999?) didn't have computers and adding a $200 GameBoy to a $2000 sewing machine was cheaper then a $1000 PC.

Palm PDAs with the infrared port have been used to simulate the spread of a disease through a population. Give all the students the PDAs running the App. One is infected. Everyone starts syncing IR. Now the class tries to find out who had the original infection.

A Palm with a serial port interface to sensors that collect information (button press as a ball rolls across it, sound waves, anything that can be timed).

Distributed quiz answering pads. Send class notes to everyone's DS to read at home. Quizes to research.

There has to be lots of things that can be done beyond "Educational" software.

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