Games Based Learning – 6th March 2018

After having spent numerous weeks undertaking the Digital Technologies module and learning about a multitude of various technologies that can be used effectively in the classroom, I was unsure how using a well-known game would fit into the curriculum other than its use of developing technology skills, technology awareness and fine motor skills. However, today we learnt about the use of the Wii console in the classroom can be effective through using it as a stimulus in learning for many different areas of the curriculum.

The Higher Education Academy state that ”Digital Games-based learning is the integration of gaming into learning experiences to increase engagement and motivation.” Despite not being in the classroom today with children, it certainly increased my own motivation for learning in this subject in particular and I felt thoroughly engaged with the task at hand.

The use of technology is argued in the classroom as to wether it should be included or not. Theorists including Jean Piaget and Leonard Vygotsky have argued that “play is a crucial component of cognitive development from birth and through adulthood”. Wether this play is done through solid materials or interactivity through a smart device or TV screen is left to personal preference. As a parent myself, I see the benefits and impact that the use of technology has on my own daughter and how a range of apps and games have increased her own skills, abilities, knowledge and confidence in her own learning. I can only imagine the benefits and motivation they will impose on young learners if the use of these same resources were to be used within a classroom. The use of games-based learning is supported by Farber (2016) who notes that “…students are provided with a gameful learning experience driven by play.”

Before we got to get to the task at hand, we were asked to create our own character and vehicle based on the principle of Mario Kart, the racing game for the Wii console. This put to good use my creative art skills and I enjoyed coming up with different ideas that I thought would appeal to children and fit in well with a game such as Mario Kart. Having children design their own character and kart is alone allowing them to use their creativity and imagination skills to design something they would use themselves in game play.

Upon completion of our own characters and racing karts, we were given time to complete our task for today’s class: to create our own IDL lesson plan based around Mario Kart. Having the lesson planned around the IDL topic allowed for a breadth of Experiences and Outcomes to be explored across many of the curricular areas. The following are the ones which we included in our lesson plan:

‘I can describe, follow and record routes and journeys using signs, words and angles associated with direction and turning.’ MTH 1-17a

‘Using technology and other methods, I can display data simply, clearly and accurately by creating tables, charts and diagrams using simple labelling and scale.’ MTH 1-21a

‘I can design and construct models and explain my solutions.’ TCH 1-09a

‘I can create and present work using the visual elements of line, shape, form, colour, tone, pattern and texture.’ EXA 1-03a

‘I can present my writing in a way that will make it legible and attractive for my reader, combining words, images and other features.’ LIT 1-24a

After completing my drawings (which I did feel rather proud of and impressed with) as a group we came together to come up with areas in which we could use Mario Kart as a stimulus across different areas of the curriculum. At first I felt a little apprehensive as to where this would take us when creating our IDL plan, however once we got started, we found it difficult to stop. There were so many areas which we could cover, some of which included; Literacy, Maths, Technology, Expressive Arts and Health & Wellbeing. Games based learning offers a whole host of learning opportunities across education including the following:

  • Using games as a stimulus (or contextual hub);
  • Games are often used as a starting point for other activities;
  • ›Using games to teach content;
  • Games can be used to illustrate concepts and materials to be taught;
  • Using games to teach social skills.

Along with Games-based learning having an evidently successful impact on young learners, it too has the ability to enhance the educators skillset and knowledge in the world of Gaming and provide them with skills and abilities they otherwise would not have if they had not became a teacher. It offers rich learning opportunities to take a game, turn it into a learning opportunity like what we done today and immerse their pupils in an engaging and rich lesson that can be carried over the course of just a few days, or possibly even weeks or months. It is important to remember that although our job is to be the educator, it is highly rewarding to learn from the pros themselves – our pupils. They are the finest examples to learn from when it comes to gaming as a lot of children in Scotland have already adopted a mass of knowledge and ability when it comes to games such as Mario Kart and Minecraft. They can teach us just as much as we can teach them in some aspects of education. Along with this, we are offering our pupils lessons in which they grasp, understand and will be excited about. Stephen Reid of Immersive Minds supported this theory by stating that “Although 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, there is no denying that such platforms offer them a way to engage the pupils in a way they understand and can relate to.”

Overall, today’s lesson provided a highly useful and exciting insight into the world of Games-Based learning. As a teacher I am impelled at the prospect of using a popular game as a stimulus and getting my pupils motivated, engaged and excited to learn around something they likely already have experience of using. Furthermore, using games in the classroom allows educators to create unique and stimulating lessons across various aspects of the curriculum whilst avoiding unnecessary repetition and maintaining pupils engagement. I look forward to enhancing my skills and putting them to good use in the classroom when I become a professional teacher.

References

Edutopia – 3 Ways to use Games-based Learning. [Online] Available at: https://www.edutopia.org/article/3-ways-use-game-based-learning-matthew-farber. [First Accessed – 7th March 2018]

Future Scot – Immersive Minds. Teachers Experience Games-Based Learning at Minecraft Launch. [Online] Available at: http://futurescot.com/educators-encouraged-open-minds-possibilities-games-based-learning/. [First Accessed: 7th March 2018]

Higher Education Academy – Gamification and Games-Based Learning. [Online] Available at: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/gamification-and-games-based-learning. [First Accessed: 7th March 2018]

Scottish Government (2008) The Curriculum for Excellence [Online] Available at: http://www.education.gov.scot/Documents/all-experiences-and-outcomes.pdf [First Accessed: 7th March 2018]