13 August 2005

Teaching with Games

Parent: How can I get my child to stop playing video games?
Me: That's simple. Make "video games" a required subject in school. Give the kids homework, make them write essays and sit exams on video games. They'll stop in an instant!

My tongue-in-cheek advice is about to be put to the test (sort of) with a new initiative being run by NESTA Futurelab in the U.K. - Teaching with Games is set to commence with the new school year, beginning next month.
The study will look at what children can learn from computer games, how best to introduce games into the classroom and what changes might be required to make them relevant to the educational environment. Computer games are beginning to be introduced to schools but do they really work as a tool for education? The practicalities of using games in the classroom will be explored through trials in selected secondary schools in the UK.
The background research that sets the theoretic ground for this study makes for some impressive, and remarkably accessible reading. Two discussion papers caught my eye while I was browsing the equally impressive site: "Computer Games and Learning: Why do we think it's worth talking about computer games and learning in the same breath?"; and "An Anatomy of Games."

If you are at all interested in the use of Information and Computer Technology in the context of pedagogy, count on spending the better part of a day exploring NESTA Futurelab's literature reviews, project showcase, and research discussion papers. This is a treasure trove of cutting edge theory and research that queries the very nature of learning environments.

Meanwhile, in other news, a study that found most UK parents ignore game age advisories also "showed that parents were more concerned about children spending too many hours playing games, rather than about what type of title they were playing." I wonder what these parents will think when the games start showing up in the classroom!

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like to characterize this as a split between "advergaming" and "edutainment." Hard definitions aren't necessary, but the question sticks - parents, which side do you stand on? Point in case: any kid that's played Age of Mythology knows the names of Odin's ravens Thought and Memory (who can be used to spy across the battlefield)...