Crossroads Part 3: Educational Gaming
February 9, 2011 2 Comments
Computer games are engrained in our way of life; games are as much a part of our modern culture as television, film and music. To young people there is no such distinction between these entertainment mediums; they are never plagued by the dilemma that games could be considered bad for them, they are there to be enjoyed just as television, books, and music. This is in part due to the speed at which technology is moving. The kinds of technology we have access to and take very much for granted is a relatively modern phenomenon yet young people have adapted to these changes without the blink of an eye; their world is connected, diverse, instant, just in time, accessible and social. Now compare that with where they spend a large proportion of their day; school.
School hasn’t really changed much in the past 100 years, yes there is new technology seeping through and work such as the Consolarium in Scotland should be applauded for its innovation, but in the main the refresh rate of technology in schools is just not fast enough to cope with the pace of change. A common phrase coined by Marc Prensky and often cited when talking about education is that young people have to ‘power down’ when they come to class as they leave their connected, accessible, just in time, world behind.
A discussion of the reasons behind the lack of change in the school system can be found in our up and coming chapter ‘Practical Applications of Serious Games in Education’, to be published in the Handbook of Research on Improving Learning and Motivation through Educational Games in Q1 2011. This post is to focus on what is happening out there right now in schools with regards to games for learning.
There is a desire;
In 2009, a Futurelab survey of 1,634 teachers, 35% of teachers in the UK reported having experience of using games in their teaching practices and 60% would consider using them again 95% reported a desire to learn more.
In the same study the breadth of subjects covered by games was significant and the ways in which games are used varies just as much with teachers using consoles, PCs, handhelds to cover subject matter such as Math’s, creative writing, animal welfare, geography and biology.
There is a belief they can teach;
85% believed that Motor/Cognitive skills such as hand/eye coordination and better reaction times would be the most common learning outcome.
73% believed ICT skills and 63% believed higher order thinking skills would be improved upon.
Interestingly, the perceived risk of learning antisocial behaviour (44%) and the benefit of learning about a particular subject area (47%) were very closely rated.
There are stumbling blocks;
The barriers that teachers face when attempting to use serious games are more aligned. Logistical issues of Licensing (68%) and Expense (74%) are generally thought of as the principal barriers. And some have concerns over access to computers at home and the quality of the learning vs. traditional methods (fear of the unknown perhaps?) In fact teachers may see games as a replacement resulting in a resistance to explore the options.
Games seem to be gaining ground in credibility terms; there is an increasing amount of research, both private and public sector supporting the use of games for learning. As we understand more about how games are used in schools we can work on reducing the barriers teachers face. What is clear to us at PIXELearning is that there is a growing appetite for more information.
Next week we will be highlighting how some of our products have been used in both formal and informal education in the UK, Europe and US.