This week in Digital Technologies we hosted a group of primary six students from a nearby school. They had collaborated to create the village of Hogsmeade from Harry Potter in Minecraft and brought in their iPads to show us their work and teach us how to use Minecraft. I had used Minecraft previously but it was an enjoyable and interesting experience to see how the students used it as part of their learning.
An OFCOM Report (2011) showed that 85% of 5-7 year olds and 90% of 9-11 year olds regularly use a gaming device. It follows logically that the majority of students in a primary classroom will feel quite comfortable using games, and therefore that they could be a valuable resource if used correctly to support a lesson.
Bray (2012) says that games-based learning has the most transformational impact when it is combined with good learning and teaching. To me the digital leaders programme in the primary school that visited us supports this by taking the students with the most enthusiasm for technology and allowing them to bring their experience into the classroom to assist both their peers and their teacher. Bray (2012) also says that games should not just be a reward or entertainment. It was interesting to see the students using Minecraft in a practical way, by creating their own model of the village of Hogsmeade to support their class novel. This further helped with the development of ‘soft skills’ such as teamwork and collaboration that was evident when we looked at how the Nintendo Wii could be used in the classroom. In pairs, on one server, the students had to create a shop from the village of Hogsmeade aided by their reading of the novels in class, thus supporting their literacy lessons and encouraging them to work together.
Beauchamp (2012, p.9) says that it is important when using games in the classroom to make it clear the way in which we want the games to be used and I think that the activity of building Hogsmeade within Minecraft was an excellent way to achieve this. By the end of the input, it seemed clear that the students had enjoyed showing adults with minimal experience how to use Minecraft. The digital leader system implemented in the school who visited us seems to be a very useful way to teach collaborative learning skills which will serve students well in academia and beyond.
Beauchamp, G. (2012). ICT in the Primary School: From Pedagogy to Practice. Harlow: Pearson. p.9.
Bray, O. (2012) Playful Learning: Computer Games in Education. [Online] Available: https://www.slideshare.net/Microsofteduk/playful-learning-computer-games-in-education [Accessed 9 Apr 2018].
OFCOM (2011). Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes. [Online] Available: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0030/55479/children_and_parents.pdf [Accessed 9 Apr 2018].