For week 9 we were focusing on games-based learning. Gaming is hugely popular with children, according to Ofcom Report (2011) 90% of 8-11 year old and 86% of 5-7 year olds play gaming devices on a regular basis. This shows just how popular gaming is so if it can be used in an educational way it could be an extremely effective way to teach children. I grew up using gaming devices such as a Nintendo DS, a Nintendo Wii, an Xbox and I even played games on the computer such as The Sims. I believe if they were used to aid in learning I would have really enjoyed it and would find it a nice different way to learn. However, I was still apprehensive about these being used as a tool for learning. This is because I was unsure of how it could enhance learning and if children would just get distracted by the game itself and therefore not completed the task.
For this weeks task we were to work in groups and create an interdisciplinary plan using the game Minecraft. Minecraft have their own version educational version making it a perfect way to using games in the classroom, especially since it is a hugely popular game.
We started by using Minecraft to see what we could do with the game, and how it could be used within the classroom. At first we found it difficult to think of ideas of what we could do that weren’t using Minecraft for the sake of using it but were actually going to enhance the learning by using Minecraft. We eventually came up with ideas for four sections of the curriculum.
- Health and Wellbeing
We created a mindmap with all of our different ideas for the different subject areas. We used this table to help highlight our ideas for each of the sections and to write down the experiences and outcomes associated with these.
For Health and Wellbeing, our main idea was that we would use the survival mode on Minecraft and the children would have to try and survive a day while cooking their own meals. Since different foods provide you with different amounts of energy it would allow the children to learn that they need a balance within meals. The experience and outcome that we associated with this was “By investigating the range of foods available I can discuss how they contribute to a healthy diet. HWB 1-30a”
For Maths, our ideas were that they could use the maps to find each other in the game with help of a compass. This will allow them to think about North, South, East and West. After this we could also ask them to use coordinates to get to a certain location. The experience and outcome focussed on this is “in movement, games and using technology I can use simple directions and describe positions. MTH 0-17a” Our next idea was to link maths with art by getting them to create their own house using symmetrical patterns. They would also have to count how many blocks they needed to build their house. The experience and outcome for this would be “I can explore and discuss why different shapes fit together and create a tiling pattern with them. MTH 1-16b”
For science, our idea was to take advantage of having the different elements of the periodic table in the game. We would get the children to re-create the periodic table by using an image or we could get them to separate the elements into metals and non-metals. We could also allow them to find as many elements or metals as possible and have them see what they could create with these. The experience and out come for this is “Through exploring properties and sources of materials, I can choose appropriate materials to solve practical challenges. SCN 1-15a”
Finally for literacy, our main idea was that they could create their own story plan in Minecraft and then afterward they can write or create a storyboard of the story they planned in Minecraft. This would allow them to tell us why they choose all of the things they had chosen to do. The experience and outcome for this was “Having explored the elements which writers use in different genres, I can use what I learn to create my own stories, poems and plays with interesting structures, characters and/or settings. ENG 1-31a2”
The last part of our task was to present our ideas to the rest of the class. This was quite scary for me as I find it hard to talk to a big group of people around my age or older. I still felt like it was a good idea as since we are training to become teachers we need to be comfortable speaking in front of others. Although it does feel different speaking in front of a class of children rather than a group of adults. This was still a great way to practice my presentation skills.
Use in Schools
There are many more ways Minecraft can be used within schools. I took note of some of the other ideas people had. It can be used to:
- Practice fraction work
- Build your own castle after learning about different castles
- Create chemicals and compounds
- Create your own dream home
- Re-create historical landmarks
- Write a story then give it to another to act out in Minecraft
- Debate whether games-based learning is useful
Games-based learning can also help to develop may skills, such as:
- “Strategic Thinking
- Application of numbers
- Negotiating Skills
- Group decision-making
- Data Handling Skills.”
(Beauchamp, 2012, p.10).
Overall, I believe games-based learning can be extremely useful in aiding learning. This is because it can create an interest within the pupils and is a much different way to help teach something. However, I do believe it has some downfalls as children may become distracted by the game and therefore not complete the work they are supposed to be doing. In addition, if it is just used for the sake of using a game and the game does not add to the learning then it would be a waste of time using it. Although I do believe if the task is right for the game then the positives would out weigh the negatives and would be amazing to use in the classroom.
- Bray, O. (2012) Playful Learning: Computer Games in Education. [Online] https://www.slideshare.net/Microsofteduk/playful-learning-computer-games-in-education [Accessed: 20th March 2019]
- Beauchamp, G. (2012) ICT in the Primary Classroom: From Pedagogy top Practice. Pearson.