Teaching with games


Following up on the discussions that have been taking place around NZ after Lisa Galareau’s keynote at the ULearn conference, here’s an interesting report from FutureLab titled Teaching with Games. it’s the result of a one-year project supported by Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Take-Two and ISFE.

The study was designed to offer a broad overview of teachers’ and students’ use of and attitudes towards commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) computer games in schools. It’s aims were to:

  1. identify the factors that would impact the use of these entertainment games in school
  2. describe the processes by which teachers plan and implement games-based learning in existing curricular contexts
  3. provide recommendations for future games-based learning approaches in schools for teachers, developers and policy makers.

The report is an excellent read, (either online or by downloading the PDF version). There’s an emphasis throughout on there being a great deal of potential for learning in the use of games in classrooms, but that this potential will only be realised when teachers,school leaders and games developers understand and take notice of the range of factors identified in this report.

Of the key findings from the project, a couple that caught my eye were:

  • Using games in a meaningful way within lessons depended far more on the effective use of existing teaching skills than it did on the development of any new, game-related skills. Far from being sidelined, teachers were required to take a central role in scaffolding and supporting students’ learning through games.
  • Where previous studies have suggested that games need to offer a fully accurate underlying model to be of benefit for formal education, this study suggests that for the game to be of benefit to teachers, it need only be accurate to a certain degree: there may be wider inaccuracies within the game model, but these do not necessarily preclude the game from being used meaningfully in a lesson.

Now there’s some thing to challenge some of the assumptions and pre-conceived ideas about games and gaming that I’ve seen and herd expressed recently!

(Note: Lisa Galarneau’s talk at ULearn is available here – requires registration)

One thought on “Teaching with games

  1. I find “Teaching with Games” an interesting read and of interest the key findings. In our kindergarten, children are using on-line games to extend their learning passions and develop learning tools for the 21st Century – all in meaningful contexts. But of interest in our setting is the manner in which teachers support these children on their journey. Some just see the games as play and a static experience with very little use of thinking, let alone any learning happening but myself I can see the holistic learning for our online gamers. Documentation supports childrens use of numeracy and literacy, drawing and 6 hat thinking to deepen their working theorys of their world and not to mention the relationship building between teaching and learning within our whole learning community – all this and more in an early childhood setting, I wonder how many of our kindergarten children will be the future robotic surgery movers and shakers? I guess there is something about less formal approaches to teaching and learning and following children’s passions but more importantly really supporting children to really discover and learn.

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