With almost 86% of 5-7 year old children and 90% of 8-11 year old children using gaming devices regularly (Ofcom, 2011), we as teachers need to find a way to effectively incorporate game based learning within our classroom. In today’s lecture we were given the opportunity to explore the application ‘Minecraft’ and discover its educational benefits. This may sound like a very fun, interactive lecture, however coming from someone who has never played Minecraft I began todays lecture feeling very stressed out and not knowing what to do.
Today’s learners have grown up in a world that is so different from previous generations. As society changes our education system changes and what we teach children may be considerably different to what their parents learnt in school. With video games being a part of a huge number of children’s everyday lives, it is beneficial to incorporate areas of games based learning within our classroom. Bray (2012) highlights that games should not just be used as a reward for early finishers, it is important we, as teachers, look at games in an educational approach. I was very interested for today’s session as I did not have a wide range of knowledge about games based learning prior to todays lecture.
Beauchamp (2012) states there are a wide range of transferable skills that children develop through the use of games based learning, these skills include:
- Strategic thinking
- Communication amongst peers
- Group decision making
- Data handling skills
Today we specifically looked at the educational version of Minecraft, which we were asked to download onto our own devices prior to the session. Our task was to either work independently or in small groups and come up with lesson plans around Minecraft. Personally, I worked in a group of three which I really benefited from as one of my group members had a lot of experience when it came to Minecraft from playing it when he was younger. We began by playing the game and experimenting with the different features available. This really helped as it allowed us to get a feel for the game and gather ideas for our lesson plans.
For our task, we looked at a range of different curricular areas and as a team came up with fun, interactive lessons. Below I have listed a summary of our lesson plans:
Health and Wellbeing: Pupils would select survival mode; the aim is for the children to learn how to ‘survive’, they have to fend for themselves by building shelter and find their own food by killing the animals on the game. This provides protein for the character which gives them energy. This lesson would allow children to work collaboratively and develop their problem solving skills by deciding what tasks to carry out in order for their character to ‘survive’.
Creative writing: Pupils could either work independently or in groups and create a story with a series of events they want the figure on Minecraft to do. Pupils could then be given the opportunity to swap stories and carry out the events of another groups creative story. This lesson would allow children to challenge each other and work together to complete the set tasks.
Expressive arts: Children can show their creative skills on Minecraft by discovering the range of features that are available on Minecraft , e.g. build, hunt etc.
We linked our lessons to the following experiences and outcomes:
- When listening and talking with others for different purposes, I can exchange information, experiences, explanations, ideas and opinions, and clarify points by asking questions or by asking others to say more. LIT 1-09a
- I can explore and experiment with digital technologies and can use what I learn to support and enhance my learning in different contexts. TCH 1-01a
- Through taking part in a variety of events and activities, I am learning to recognise my own skills and abilities as well as those of others. HWB 1-19a
- Through observing and recording from my experiences across the curriculum, I can create images and objects which show my awareness and recognition of detail. EXA 2-04a
At the end of today’s lecture, we were also given the opportunity to share our lessons with our peers in the class. This was very useful as it was interesting seeing the different ideas and curricular areas other groups came up with. It was also beneficial gaining feedback from other groups as it helped to indicate areas which perhaps need a bit more work.
Although I believe there are clear benefits to introducing game based learning within the classroom, there can also be some downsides. Children may not fully focus on the task set as they might see it as an opportunity to play around with their friends and not completely focus on the set task. To overcome this, I would make the rules very clear for children and ensue they are aware of the instructions while regularly checking they are following the task.
Overall, I found this session very beneficial as beforehand I was not certain how games could possibly enhance children’s learning. However, after exploring the benefits and given the opportunity to create lesson plans this is something I will be eager to incorporate within curricular areas as I believe it would be something children would extremely enjoy and benefit from. Despite thorouly enjoying this week’s session, I also found it very difficult and hard to get to grips with I believe I need more practice with applications like mine craft, therefore I will continue to develop my learning on Minecraft to ensure I am fully prepared and can teach my class to the best of my ability.
Beauchamp, G. (2012) ICT in the Primary Classroom: From Pedagogy top Practice. Pearson.
Ofcom. (2011) Children and parents: media use and attitudes 2011. [Online] Available: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/media-literacy-research/childrens/childrens-parents-media-use-attitudes-report [Accessed: 29th March 2019].
Bray, O. (2012) Playful Learning: Computer Games in Education. [Online] https://www.slideshare.net/Microsofteduk/playful-learning-computer-games-in-education [Accessed: 29th March 2019].
Education Scotland (n.d.) Experiences and outcomes. [Online] Available: https://education.gov.scot/Documents/All-experiencesoutcomes18.pdf (Accessed 29th March 2019)