Crossroads series part 4: Games in Educational Action!
February 16, 2011 1 Comment
And so the end is near, and here’s the final curtain…what you have all been waiting for, the final instalment of the crossroads series: Serious games in education.
Last week we talked about some of the theory behind simulations in education and posted a video by the RSA on the flawed educational paradigm which based on some of the comments received and the number of hits you seemed to find quite interesting.
To recap 60% of teachers would consider using games in their classroom, and 35% of UK schools do use serious games. I think it is fair to say that with more innovative teachers, creative partnerships and fresh approaches to educating learners really being driven hard this year already the integration of serious games, Nintendo Wii’s and DS’s as well as Kinects all demonstrate the unique uses of enticing students to interact and learn in through interesting means.
Life is a competition and education is no different
The first example I want to share is the recently completed Enterprise Challenge created by the Mosaic Network in partnership with Apax Partners using business simulations for competitive learning. Mosaic Network is a charitable organisation who provides support and opportunities to minority cultures. Focusing on schools Mosaic wanted to create an opportunity for students to enjoy what they learnt and so came the Enterprise Challenge.
Using The Business Game, the competition, now in its second year, has, within the last 3 months, seen 50 schools from across England, that’s a whopping 217 teams between them, that’s almost an incredible 1000 pupils, immersing themselves in Enterprise Challenge.
During the competition teams are placed in a realistic business scenario where their task is to produce and sell a new product students are mentored on the business theory by entrepreneurs from well know organisations such as Fuji, Accenture and Apax.
The Enterprise Challenge consists of five heats with the fifth being the decisive final. In order to reach the final teams compete for the best results based on market Share, Cash Flow, Sales Revenue, Gross Revenue and Gross Profit. This year’s final see’s the top 5 teams compete to win one year’s mentoring on their own business plan.
It has been an enjoyable and intriguing experience watching the students participate in a working real life virtual business office environment and having to deal with the pace of the current business world.”- Mrs. Rashid- Manchester Academy
Raising aspirations in careers education
Skillsmart Retail is the Sector Skills Council for Retail development; part-funded by the Government and led by retailers, their aim is to drive a step change in skills levels in retail. Identifying a skills shortage Skillsmart Retail commissioned PIXELearning to create a business simulation that would walk young people through different retail opportunities. Using a freely available game hosted on their website and distributed to all schools by CD, the learning was made available to every UK pupil.
Their aim was to challenge the preconceptions many young people have about a career in retail such as only offering dead-end jobs with no career prospects, this serious game provides insights into the vast array of possible career choices this sector can offer.
Approximately 5 years old Skillsmart retail has been used by thousands of students in the UK. Each starts with a mini interview before, hopefully, getting a job within a virtual store. Divided into levels the learner takes on four different types of jobs that allow for a diverse experience of the kind of activities they could be tasked with if they went down that career path.
The IT Diploma – cross functional education
The IT Diploma was borne out of an initiative where e-skills UK worked with over 600 employers, plus representatives from schools and higher education. The qualification that covers the real-world skills 14-19 year olds need to prepare for further study and work. Within the Diploma there is a multimedia module where serious games play a key role. The module encourages students to learn how multimedia is used in a business setting and how to create multimedia themselves.
Luton Sixth Form College started using The Business Game in 2009, and has seen the simulation become a focal point of the multimedia unit of the IT Diploma. Providing the principles of running a business students were tasked with producing a ‘Dummies Guide to Success in Business’ that utilizes the learning points of the simulation enabling students to illustrate what can make a business successful. Along with other course work this guide was submitted towards their final grade with many suggesting they are keen to become entrepreneurs themselves.
“In our opinion this is a really exciting game considering we are using it at school. It puts you in the feet of businessman/women, and it is a great game which gives you an idea of how businesses work, what sort of documents they use regularly, e.g. cash flow, balance sheet and many more. We think this game would be great for other kids our age whether they want to do business courses or if they just want to start a business in the future.“ – Abdul Nasser Keer, Student, Sydney Stringer School Coventry UK.
Recently we have seen a jump in the interest from schools looking for serious games and it seems games in general are becoming more readily accepted as valuable forms of learning for schools. This perception will only grow with more and more case studies and stories shared amongst educational practitioners.