Digital Game-based Learning for Early Childhood


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This Learnovate Centre ( presentation was delivered at the iGBL 2013 symposium on June 6th 2013. The presenter was Neil Peirce and the presentation was based on a research report published by the centre. The full report is available at:

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  • 基于皮亚杰的认知发展理论,总结了学龄前阶段学生的认知特点,以及针对这些特点该如何设计合适的游戏。
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Digital Game-based Learning for Early Childhood

  1. 1. Digital Game-based Learning for EarlyChildhoodNeil PeirceIGBL, 6th June 2013Partnering industry with researchto pioneer learning innovation
  2. 2. www.learnovatecentre.orgDevelop breakthroughresearch for learninginnovation bypartnering industrywith leading researchgroups in Ireland.Learnovate Centre - Mission
  3. 3. www.learnovatecentre.orgTrinity CollegeDublinUniversity CollegeDublinWaterford Instituteof TechnologyNUI GalwayAcademia23 Industrypartners tradingwithin IrelandIndustry-Led CollaborationIndustry
  4. 4. www.learnovatecentre.orgCurrent Industry Partners
  5. 5. www.learnovatecentre.orgShared Research Agenda• Augmented Reality• Intelligent Agents• Games & Virtual Worlds• Assessment Methods• Performance Analytics• Return on Investment• Intelligent ContentDelivery• Location-basedLearning• Hands-on Learning• Interoperability• Social Learning• Search• PersonalisationSocial &InformalLearningMobile &CollaborativeLearningMetrics &AssessmentImmersiveLearning
  6. 6.• Introduction• The Design of Games for EarlyChildhood• Appropriate Gaming Strategies• Underpinning Pedagogies• Evidence of Learning Effectiveness• Ethical Considerations
  7. 7. www.learnovatecentre.orgIntroduction• Early Childhood(3-6 year olds)• Uniquechallenges• Increasingrelevance– Tablet computers(Sharp, 2002)
  8. 8. www.learnovatecentre.orgThe Pedagogy and Design ofGames• Play vs. Games– Goals– Rules• Key challenge:–Developmental Appropriateness
  9. 9. www.learnovatecentre.orgPlay in Early Childhood• Adult play– Entertainment, enjoyment, escapism, fitness, etc.• Early childhood play(NCCA, 2004)– Develop imagination and creativity– Develop an ability to manage emotions– Develop as thinkers– Develop physically– Develop language– Learn to use symbols• Including literary and numerical systems– Develop social skills, and to develop morally andspiritually
  10. 10. www.learnovatecentre.orgTaxonomy of Play(Hutt et al., 1989)
  11. 11. www.learnovatecentre.orgGames• “A game is a system in which players engagein an , defined by , thatresults in a .”(Salen & Zimmerman, 2003)• Developmental Appropriateness– Cognitive– Psychomotor– Socio-emotional– Psychosexual
  12. 12. www.learnovatecentre.orgCognitive Development (Piaget)(Gage & Berliner, 1998)
  13. 13. www.learnovatecentre.orgCognitive Development• Preoperational sub-stage– Use language to help develop concepts– Egocentric view of the world– Need extensive experience to understand complex relationalterms– Can classify objects based on a single evident feature, e.g.colour, material– There is difficulty with understanding multi-dimensionaldifferences, e.g. green circles and green triangles are not thesame just because they are green– They are able to collect items based on a criterion (even ashifting one)– They can arrange objects in a series yet cannot drawinferences between non-adjacent objects– They have limited transitive inference, e.g. if A > B and B >C then A > C
  14. 14. www.learnovatecentre.orgCognitive Development• Intuitive sub-stage– Ability to form classes or categories of objects (notnecessarily aware of them)– Understand logical relationships of increasing complexity– Able to work with the idea of a number– By age 7 they are able to react to symbol systems and toovercome their intuitive impressions– The principle of conservation is understood– Increased ability to express thoughts and ideas verbally– Imagination enables imitation of actions and symbols– There is a transition from self-satisfying behaviour tofundamental socialised behaviours
  15. 15. www.learnovatecentre.orgExample GamesTeam Umizoomi Math: Zoom into Numbersby MTV NetworksCount Me To Sheep by Sesame WorkshopCheckout Cookie by Sesame WorkshopLetter Factory Game by LeapFrog Enterprises
  16. 16. www.learnovatecentre.orgPsychomotor DevelopmentPsychomotor Developmental Stages(Gallahue & Ozmun, 2006)• Initially achieved largely through maturation– Fully attained through opportunities for practice,encouragement, and instruction
  17. 17. www.learnovatecentre.orgExample GamesThe Tiggly Game
  18. 18. www.learnovatecentre.orgSocio-emotional Development• Children learn through action and interaction with others• Parents/guardians play a key role in supporting their children’s earlylearning• Effective communication between parents and child-minders/practitioners enhances children’s learning• The play environment—whether outdoor or indoor—warrants carefulconsideration to support both relationships and play as key contexts forlearningEriksons Stages of Personality (Erikson, 1980)
  19. 19. www.learnovatecentre.orgExample GamesThe Scout and Friends...and You! Game byLeapFrog Enterprises
  20. 20. www.learnovatecentre.orgPsychosexual Development• Sigmund Freud– Phallic stage / reproductive issues– Body / Gender awareness• Oedipus complex among boys– Resolved through self-exploration and inputfrom parents– Limited relevance to digital game-basedlearning
  21. 21. www.learnovatecentre.orgDevelopmentalStages and Age• Many influencing factors• Great diversity within 3-6 year olds
  22. 22. www.learnovatecentre.orgAppropriate Gaming Strategies• Simple interfaces• Limited symbols requiring interpretation (no text)• A role for the parent in games• Language to discuss problems• Each child develops at their own pace• Egocentric nature limits alternate perspectives• Competition has limited relevance• Fine-motor skills still developing• Short periods of play necessary (eye development)• Body, directional, temporal, spatial awareness still developing• Many more in the report…
  23. 23. www.learnovatecentre.orgUnderpinning Pedagogies
  24. 24. www.learnovatecentre.orgEvidence of Learning Effectiveness• Limited research exists for this age group• SoA Survey– 4 leading journals and conferences– 995 papers surveyed– 3% (16 papers) directly relevant to early childhood learning0%10%20%30%40%50%60%70%80%90%100%Trans. onEdutainmentSim andGamingECGBL DIGITEL OverallPercentageofpapersbysectorPublication SourceBreakdown of sector-specific research papers(excl. theoretical and technical papers) OtherMilitaryCorporateFourth LevelThird LevelSecondaryPrimaryEarlyChildhood
  25. 25. www.learnovatecentre.orgEvidence of Learning Effectiveness• Reasons for limited publications
  26. 26. www.learnovatecentre.orgEvidence of Learning Effectiveness• PhonologicalAwareness– Benefits toreading andwriting skills inprimary schoolRepresentation of the Phonological Structureof the Word ‘basket’. (Gillon, 2004)
  27. 27. www.learnovatecentre.orgEvidence of Learning Effectiveness• Differentiation of Thematic and TaxonomicRelationshipsExample Game for Hierarchical TaxonomicClassification (Sung et al., 2008)Progressive Stages of Taxonomic Learning
  28. 28. www.learnovatecentre.orgEvidence of Learning Effectiveness• Memory EnhancementStrategies– (Oyen & Bebko, 1996)• Motor Skills and Coordination– Tangible Toys (Marco et al., 2009)• Mathematical Development– Spatial and geometric competencies andconcepts– Numeric and quantitative concepts– (Sarama & Clements, 2004)
  29. 29. www.learnovatecentre.orgEthical Considerations• Cognitive– Limited evidence of learning effectiveness• Psychomotor– Hindered psychomotor skills due to non-physical play– Health risks due to increased sedentary activity– Risks of prolonged use of digital displays– Challenges of adult centric ergonomics of devices• Socio-emotional– Reduced social and inter-generational play– Reduced conversation and use of language
  30. 30. www.learnovatecentre.orgAlso in the Report…• Cost-effectiveness– Market size– Market competitiveness– Development costsAppStore Education Section (Shuler, Levine, & Ree, 2012)
  31. 31. www.learnovatecentre.orgSummary• Developmental appropriateness is a keydesign factor for this age group– Considerable differences even within 3-6 year olds• Limited research and evaluation– Anecdotal evidence common amongst commercialgames– Proven benefits in certain domains• Ethical considerations• Need for further research in this fast growingmarket
  32. 32. www.learnovatecentre.orgThe report is available at:
  33. 33. www.learnovatecentre.orgReferences• Alliance for Childhood. (2000). Fool’s Gold: A Critical Look at Computers in Childhood. (Colleen Cordes & Edward Miller, Eds.). College Park, Maryland: Alliancefor Childhood. Retrieved from• Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32 – 42. Retrieved from• Erikson, E. H. (1980). Identity and the Life Cycle. Psyche (Vol. 7). New York, London: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Retrieved from• Florou, D., Mavroudi, C., Haidi, I., Gouscos, D., & Meimaris, M. (2001). Animating DGBL in Pre-School , Primary and Special Education : Three Case Studies.(M. Pivec, Ed.)Proceedings of the 3rd European Conference on Games Based Learning, 124–134.• Gage, N. L., & Berliner, D. C. (1998). Educational Psychology (6th ed.). Boston/New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.• Gallahue, D. L., & Ozmun, J. C. (2006). Understanding Motor Development: Infants, Children, Adolescents, Adults (Sixth.). New York: McGraw-Hill.• Gillon, G. T. (2004). Phonological Awareness: From Research to Practice. New York: The Guilford Press. Retrieved from• Hutt, S. J., Tyler, S., Hutt, C., & Christopherson, H. (1989). Play, Exploration and Learning: a Natural History of the Pre-School. London and New York: Routledge.• Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. London: Prentice-Hall.• Leutner, D. (1993). Guided discovery learning with computer-based simulation games: Effects of adaptive and non-adaptive instructional support. Learning andInstruction, 3(2), 113–132. doi:10.1016/0959-4752(93)90011-N• Marco, J., Cerezo, E., Baldassarri, S., Mazzone, E., & Read, J. C. (2009). Bringing tabletop technologies to kindergarten children. HCI 2009 (pp. 103–111).Retrieved from• Montessori, M. (1912). The Montessori method : scientific pedagogy as applied to child education in “The children’s houses” with additions and revisions by theauthor. Heinemann.• Oyen, A.-S., & Bebko, J. M. (1996). The Effects of Computer Games and Lesson Contexts on Children’s Mnemonic Strategies. Journal of Experimental ChildPsychology, 62(2), 173–189. doi:10.1006/jecp.1996.0027• Piaget, J. (1962). Play, dreams, and imitation in childhood. Morton ibrary (Vol. 24, pp. 316–339). Norton. Retrieved from• Plowman, L., & Stephen, C. (2005). Children, play, and computers in pre-school education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 36(2), 145–157.doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2005.00449.x• Salen, K., & Zimmerman, E. (2003). Rules of play: game design fundamentals. MIT Press. Retrieved from• Savery, J. R., & Duffy, T. M. (1995). Problem Based Learning: An instructional model and its constructivist framework. Educational Technology, (35), 31–38.• Sharp, C. (2002). School Starting Age : European Policy and Recent Research. LGA Seminar “When Should our Children Start School?” London: NationalFoundation for Educational Research. Retrieved from• Sung, Y.-T., Chang, K.-E., & Lee, M.-D. (2008). Designing multimedia games for young children’s taxonomic concept development. Computers &Education, 50(3), 1037–1051. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2006.07.011