Although the initial plan of engaging with Nintendo games throughout this lesson did not follow through, our session was still fully oriented around games-based learning and the benefits of teaching in this style for both pupils and teachers. Digital Games-based Learning is described as being, “the integration of gaming into learning experiences to increase engagement and motivation” (Higher Education Academy website). This particular lesson began with us being asked to create a mind-map in groups based on our initial understanding of the benefits of games-based learning. After discussing the topic further, we were to go back and add any further knowledge we had gained to compare. We also learned how games-based learning can cover the SHANARI outcomes: safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected and included.
Due to this lesson, I learned that games-based learning increases motivation in pupils, grabs their attention, improves their ability to recall the information they were taught in this way and reinforces knowledge for pupils in a stress-free and pleasurable manner. I learned that games-based learning can be used as a stimulus and used as a beginning point for other activities or it can be used to teach content and be used to illustrate content and materials. It has the potential to also be used to teach social skills improving their understanding of how best to communicate with their peers under certain circumstances or it can be used to allow pupils to create games of their very own.
I agree with the statements that games-based learning is stress-free and pleasurable for the learners and that it increases motivation. I agree with these as when we were asked to create our own Mario Kart character, I was apprehensive at the beginning due to drawing not being a strong skill of mine, however when I recognised that it was all for fun, I felt relaxed and was able to see the enjoyment in the task.
Not only did we learn about the benefits of combining games with learning, we were also informed of the potential challenges we may face as student teachers. One of the main hurdles faced by teachers is deciding on a game that is suitable and fits in with the class aims. We were informed of ways of evaluating whether the games is appropriate: is it likely to engage pupils? Does it promote problem solving and collaborative learning? Can the game be used to develop specific curriculum content? Other challenges to consider are if the resources and budget you have as a teacher are going to be enough to integrate games into the classroom and if you will be able to assess your pupils appropriately using the game you are considering.
A final challenge faced is lack of confidence in teachers. Due to teachers being nervous about using games in the classroom, many pupils miss out on this beneficial opportunity. “Game-based learning has had a ‘difficult history’ with teachers who may have felt threatened by children becoming more expert in technology than they are” (Stephen Reid, Immersive Minds, cited on Future Scot online article). In order to avoid this potential complication, we were informed how to efficiently use games-based learning. “Theorists Jean Piaget and Leonard Vygotsky have argued that play is a crucial component of cognitive development from birth and through adulthood” (Higher Education Academy website) Since reading this, as a student teacher, I am not willing to deprive my future pupils of the opportunities games-based learning brings, therefore I was very glad to be fully informed how best to use games-based learning to improve my confidence when doing so. We were taught this week to be clear about the learning intentions throughout, make distinct links to experiences and outcomes and use appropriate games and select parts of these games relevant to meeting the intended outcome. As role models, we must ensure that games-based learning has a positive impact on social skills, supports and enhances learning, develops skills and provides opportunities to apply these skills.
After learning about the benefits of games-based learning, we were to put our knowledge into practice and work in groups to create an interdisciplinary plan showing which curricular areas games-based tasks could be integrated with. Focusing on Mario Kart, we were able to cover the curricular areas of: literacy, expressive arts, health and wellbeing, technology and numeracy. However, we were not limited to these subjects alone and recognised that we had many ideas across the curriculum just for Mario Kart. This emphasised to us the vast potential lessons that can be created from games.
For literacy, we imagined that children could write a diary entry pretending they had been part of an audience watching a Mario Kart race. Throughout their piece of writing, their aims would be to include a specific number of adjectives and descripting words. This would cover the curriculum outcome: ‘I can spell the most commonly-used words, using my knowledge of letter patterns and spelling rules and use resources to help me spell tricky or unfamiliar words’ LIT 1-21a.
The Expressive Arts lesson we planned was for pupils to create their own cars using paint and decorating cardboard boxes. Once these have been completed, pupils could perform a drama pretending to be part of a real race. The curriculum outcome completed by this would be: ‘I have experienced the energy and excitement of presenting/performing for audiences and being part of an audience for other people’s presentations/performances.’ EXA 0-01a / EXA 1-01a / EXA 2-01a.
Our health and wellbeing lesson would follow on from this art lesson as the children could use the cars they had previously created to display their road safety knowledge showing when it is suitable to cross, speed, waiting at traffic lights and zebra crossings etc. We got this idea from the curriculum outcome: ‘I know and can demonstrate how to travel safely’ HWB 0-18a / HWB 1-18a / HWB 2-18a.
For a technology lesson, we came up with the idea of allowing pupils to create cars, tracks and a setting with drawings and other materials to use in their own iStop Motion animation. This would come under the curriculum outcome: ‘I can extend and enhance my design skills to solve problems and can construct models’ TCH 2-09a.
For numeracy our lesson plan was to give the children a set budget to use and decide what to buy such as which race car, which tools and what other equipment they may need. Curriculum outcome: ‘I can manage money, compare costs from different retailers, and determine what I can afford to buy.’ MNU 2-09a.
(Scottish Government, 2008)
In conclusion, this lesson made me much more aware of the endless possibilities games-based learning can bring to a classroom. It helped me realise I must be confident in this aspect of teaching to give my future pupils to opportunities they deserve. Thanks to this session, I now have a greater understanding of the benefits and possible lessons games can bring.
Beauchamp, G. (2012) ICT in the Primary Classroom: From Pedagogy top Practice. Pearson.
Porter, B. (2004) Digi Tales: The Art of Telling Digital Stories. Bernajean Porter Publication.
Jones, R.H. and Hafner, C.A. (2012) Understanding Digital Literacies: A Practical Introduction. Routledge.
Scottish Government (2008) The Curriculum for Excellence [Online] http://www.education.gov.scot/Documents/all-experiences-and-outcomes.pdf