I wrote most of these articles and conference reports while I was doing my M.Ed.(CI). Originally put up on the website TeachAsiaOnline.com (defunct since 2009), I have decided to archive them here as I think most of the information is still relevant and useful for others. (2012) I'm now picking up where I left off to write about more recent seminars I attended.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Using Games Technology in Education

Speakers: Richard Shotten
Organised by: British Council, Bangkok (Thai-UK Education Festival 2006)
Date: 4 February 2006
Location: Novotel Hotel Siam Square, Monet Pissarro Room, Bangkok

Richard Shotten presented on the issue of using games as part of pedagogy. Students, especially those who at school spend a lot of time playing computer games, either on their PCs, on their play station, or some other device. Students have the preconception that playing computer games is fun and they are therefore motivated to use them. As teachers and educational leaders it is possible to get the students of any age to “Learn through play”. Games companies however need to wake up to their social responsibility and develop games that have true educational value and for which parents and educators can see.

Games for education might be a contentious issue particularly in light of recent concerns that education is being “dumbed down” and that we need to provide education not edutainment. However using games appropriately can engage student thinking and stimulate focused concentration for long periods of time especially if ways are found to extend the range of teaching and learning activities to engage more children in more ways; this can also lead to a greater depth of personalised learning and at the same time help develop so called “soft skills” culminating with a longer, deeper, and wider learning process

The key feature of a good educational game is one in which the students have a great degree of personal choices and therefore a diversity of consequences. Students, perhaps due to the fact that they are disempowered at home and at school like the fact that a computer game gives them destiny under their own control. Computers allow there to be rapid feedback and progression through levels, the games are physically safe in that dangerous experiences can be presented without fatal consequences. The games give a sense of competition and challenge especially in regard to online games where many people from all over the world can all compete at the same time. The games themselves are demanding and difficult and give the students a real sense of satisfaction and a real sense of achievement even though it may only be temporary.

In order for games to relate directly to the curriculum there are several criteria that need to be addressed, games need to be customisable and episodic so that they fit into lesson timetable and schedule. They need to be authentic and based on real life situation; accurate and factually correct; and finally created in partnership with teachers & students.

There are of course as with many new technologies several issues that need to be addressed that might cause problems. The use of computer games explicitly as part of the learning process is a new approach which clearly puts students in control of their own learning to a much greater extent than ever before. Only a small proportion of UK teachers have experience with computer games; 72% of UK teachers NEVER play them and therefore teachers will require support and training to help build their confidence, as well as giving them opportunities to experiment with the new technologies. In the first case it might well be true to say that students will have a much more experience with the technology than their teachers.

Another issue is the perceived value of “edutainment”, technology should be integrated into the curriculum and pedagogy and used as one of many tools, not the most important tool that leads to the exclusion of other methodologies. The technical requirements, the hardware and software required are not cheap and at present there is no mechanism in place to evaluate the effectiveness of computer games as a help or hindrance to the learning process. This is an area that requires a lot more development as part of ongoing research.

More about Information Technology in Education at Effective Management of the School Responsible for ICT Development http://education-articles-and-conferences.blogspot.com/2011/11/effective-management-of-school.html.

(c) cafavier, 2006-2011

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