In June and July of this year we hosted three days here at the CLC where Year 2 pupils from Royd Nursery and Infants and Year 6 pupils from Nook Lane Primary took part in a number of educational activities themed around the game ‘Endless Ocean’ using Nintendo Wii games consoles (show games console and game – playing on other IWB) This work had arisen out of previous work we had done with partnership schools exploring how computer games could be used in schools (after school games club 2005-6, game making in 2007 in primary school and YOT game making). This was not something we had plucked out of the air – it came from seeing and hearing about good practise using computer games from other authorities and schools across the country and from evaluations and research that showed that used in the correct way, computer game technology could enhance learning. It was also part of our business plan agreed with the partnership and BECTA that we undertake a games project with at least one primary school and was deemed as innovative work by BECTA in our APA.
But this workshop isn’t just about what we’ve done. I hope it’ll provide you with ideas and inspiration for exploring the use of computer games in the classroom yourself. One of the CLC’s aims in 2009-10 is to successfully embed the use of computer games in at least 4 of the partnership primaries.
By embedding I mean enabling the school through providing support and initial equipment loan to use games technology in some of their teaching and learning this academic year – whether that is using Endless Ocean as part of a scheme of work or exploring the use of another title elsewhere in the curriculum.
There has been a lot of bad press about computer games and their effect on children. However, equally there has been a growing amount of good press about their use in schools and for learning. Criticism that have been levelled at computer games are that they encourage violent attitudes, they make young learners socially isolated, they contribute to rising obesity levels due to inactivity or that they inhibit cognitive development due to the lack of content. There is growing evidence that not all of these claims are true or indeed are based in substantial evidence. Violence? According to federal crime statistics, the rate of juvenile violent crime in the United States is at a 30-year low. Researchers find that people serving time for violent crimes typically consume less media before committing their crimes than the average person in the general population. Most research only shows that aggressive people like aggressive entertainment not that it actually causes it. Source: Henry Jenkins - Massachusetts Institute of Technology The computer games project is not aiming to dismiss these concerns about certain aspects of games and games culture but we do believe that there are numerous games that can be used for teaching and learning that do not follow the stereotype of a computer game. We believe that computer games can be used to engage, motivate and extend learners.
Is it just another fad? I don’t think so. BECTA, Futurelabs and even the National Literacy Strategy advocate the use of computer games in the classroom. Using computer games can help develop the four capacities of the curriculum for excellence (successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens, effective contributors). I think that the use of computer games and computer games technology has a place alongside the use of film and animation in the classroom.
Endless Ocean is a game where you go exploring a fictional sea called the Manurai Sea. You have a boat that you can move around to different points in the sea and go diving from there. You are set specific projects such as to take tourists on dives or search for particular sea creatures. You can also dive and explore at your leisure. You can interact with the sea creatures which range from angel fish to killer whales. On the activity days we had two virtual ‘diving stations’ set up. Each had a Nintendo Wii, a controller (Endless Ocean can only use one controller at a time) and the game set up at a point where the players can go diving. In the game the first few minutes is a tutorial about how to dive and using the boat. It’s always best to steer the activity using the game towards the learning objectives so we set the game up and saved it to start after this part. The pupils entered the game diving at the coral reef with a specific goal in mind – which was to record what they encountered in a diving log. They took turns – one child dived while the other recorded their observations.
The classes were divided into 5 or 6 groups of between 4 and 5 pupils. The days for Year 2 and Year 6 pupils were differentiated slightly. Each group was given a team name around the theme of oceans – manta rays, clown fish, barracudas, angel fish, tiger sharks and star fish.
The Year 2 pupils had 30 minutes at each of 5 activities – Diving, Sorting data in a Carroll Diagram using Activ Primary, filming an interview with the divers using digital blue, creating a Kar2ouche storyboard using Living Things and taking photographs of the activities. The diving, filming and Kar2ouche activities had intensive support – the other activities were independent.
The Year 6 pupils had 45 minutes to complete their activities – they were a little more involved. They 6 activities to complete – Diving, researching – answering specific questions from directed web sites, using excel to create graphs and charts from their diving data, filming an interview with divers using a DV camera, creating a presentation on a specific sea creature or topic and taking photographs. The diving, data and filming activities were intensively supported – the other activities were independent.
Learning with games is a collaborative and social activity. There was much discussion around how to play the game – children shared tips such as how to find certain creatures and how to use the controller. They worked in teams and challenged each other in finding the most species and most exciting species. They also had many opportunities throughout the day to share what they’d found out and reflect on their learning. On the Year 6 activity day we were lucky enough to share a video conference with pupils in Stirling who had used Endless Ocean too. The pupils were able to ask questions, share tips and talk about what they’d learnt.
We were also able to ask questions of an American Marine Biologist using the free web tool ‘twitter’.
Initially working to embed in 4 partnership schools. Stirling – planning available. Tim Rylands in Spring term.
Primary Games Project Embedding the use of games technology in the classroom
<ul><li>Embed the use of gaming technology… </li></ul>
Why computer games? It’s just another fad It has no educational value Video games make kids violent
No educational value? <ul><li>Motivating learners to succeed and to continually improve </li></ul><ul><li>Fostering self-esteem, self-determination and enhancing self-image </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitating collaborative learning </li></ul><ul><li>Implicitly develop learners ability to observe, question, hypothesise and test </li></ul><ul><li>facilitate metacognitive reflection </li></ul><ul><li>Develop complex problem-solving skills </li></ul><ul><li>Make school an exciting place to be </li></ul><ul><li>Offering inroads into other curricular areas. </li></ul>BECTA (2005), Futurelab (2005, 2006) and ELSPA (2006)