Games Based Learning – Minecraft

If someone had told me before I came to university that I would be learning how to use Minecraft in an Education degree programme, seriously – I would of laughed at them. Both my stepsons have been engrossed in the same game for the last couple of years and despite them excitedly showing me their weird and wonderful creations, I never really took a proper interest in how the game worked, what it really involved or noticed that in fact it was benefiting their education in more ways than one. Today we got a really deep and useful insight into how it worked and the many purposes it serves in and out of the classroom. However today’s lesson was totally different. It wasn’t just watching tutorial videos online or having a play around the iPad to get to know my our way around it. Today we became the pupils, and a group of young local primary school pupils became the teachers! Well I never…

When we found out that children from a local primary school were coming to show us how to use and work Minecraft I was feeling positive and looking forward to the prospects of…

  1. Working with children in this class in particular;
  2. Learning from the most experienced users;
  3. Understanding the benefits and areas in which Minecraft fitted relevantly into their education and
  4. Becoming more familiar with the game and gaining knowledge and experience that I can take forward with me in my own professional career.

As a prospective teacher I feel it is vital to ensure that my technology skills are up to date, relevant and I can use them to the best of my abilities in order to enhance my pupils educational experiences. As suggested by Bray (2012) “Games-based Learning has the most transformational impact when it is combined with good learning and teaching”.  Marrying together my learning experience from the pupils today with a skillset that I am enhancing each year of my degree, I feel that Games-Based Learning in the classroom has the potential to be a tremendous success across many curricular areas. Beauchamp (2012, P.9) states that “Not only do [teachers] have to become familiar with the games, they also have to ensure that they make clear the way in which they want for the game to used.” Curricular areas that could be utilised with Games-Based Learning can include:

I regularly select and listen to or watch texts which I enjoy and find interesting, and I can explain why I prefer certain sources. I regularly select subject, purpose, format and resources to create texts of my choice. LIT 1-01a / LIT 2-01a

I have the opportunity to choose and explore an extended range of media and technologies to create images and objects, comparing and combining them for specific tasks. EXA 2-02a

I can use exploration and imagination to solve design problems related to real-life situations. EXA 1-06a

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

I can work with others to generate, discuss and develop imaginative ideas to create a product of the future. TCH 1-01b

When exploring technologies in the world around me, I can use what I learn to help to design or improve my ideas or products. TCH 2-01a

It was suggested by Ofcom (2001) that “The use of computer games, particularly console games, is firmly embedded in 21st century youth culture.” If children already have prior knowledge and experience in certain areas in technology then they are set in good stead for their future in a classroom where technology is prevalent and also in a society out-with education where being surrounded by technology is now seen as the norm.

Today we were paired with 2 pupils from a local primary school. They showed us how Minecraft worked on their own tablets and gave us an informative description of how Minecraft works, how it can be used, what it can be used for and objects and building they had previously made. They told us why they liked using the game which included that they could be as creative as they wanted and there was no right or wrong thing to do. It allowed them to develop a space which they called their own and if they wanted to share it then they could do so by joining the same network as their peers and game virtually together. We were then given the opportunity to get hands on with the game ourselves, with the pupils giving us only verbal prompts and advice and were not allowed to take over. It allowed us to work as a team, use active listening and questioning skills and collaborate effectively and in turn it allowed us to gain knowledge on the game and the end product ended up being the Three Broomsticks from Harry Potter. The pupils were excellent in answering our questions and giving us prompts and advice. It also allowed me to see how much they enjoyed it and the many benefits they got out of it wether they realised or not that they were impacting their education. Some of which included:

  • Strategic Thinking;
  • Planning;
  • Communication;
  • Application of numbers;
  • Negotiating Skills;
  • Group decision-making and
  • Data Handling Skills as noted by Beauchamp (2012).

Overall, I would have to say that today’s lesson was by far my favourite. I really enjoyed working with the pupils from the school and learning from them. They were passionate, engaged, motivated and were keen to let us in on the magical Minecraft world and the autonomous potential that it can hold. Utilising a game such as Minecraft in the classroom I think would be genius, as in just the few short hours we spent with the kids today, it was evident that it engaged, motivated and held the pupils attention. They were keen to learn, keen to show us their creations and was apparent that Minecraft is not just a game. It is a valuable resource and learning tool that if used in the classroom correctly, holds the key to pupil success and education satisfaction for both them and the educator. I will certainly be taking forward with me what I learned today, and building on my knowledge of Minecraft as well as recognising and researching for other ideas and areas in which it can be used in the classroom. It has already been downloaded onto my daughters iPad and we have started to create our own Barbie Dreamhouse. We are both enjoying getting to make our own designs and already she is starting to show me what else can be done!

 

References

Beauchamp, G. (2012) ICT in the Primary Classroom: From Pedagogy top Practice. Pearson.

Bray, O. (2012) Playful Learning: Computer Games in Education.  [Online] Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/Microsofteduk/playful-learning-computer-games-in-education First Accessed: 13th March 2018

Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes, Ofcom (2001). [Online] Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/Microsofteduk/playful-learning-computer-games-in-education First Accessed: 13th March 2018

Images – Pixabay

Scottish Government (2008) The Curriculum for Excellence [Online] Available at: http://www.education.gov.scot/Documents/all-experiences-and-outcomes.pdf First Accessed: 13th March 2018

 

Mobile Devices in the Classroom – 27/02/2018

Today’s input saw us learn about the use of mobile devices in the classroom, and the benefits they can have upon both learners and teachers. Having been studying this module from the start of the year, and covered a small section of digital technologies in a previous module, I am aware of some of the resources that are used in schools such as BeeBots and Smart Boards. The resource we used today was something I hadn’t came across before – the Easi Speak Microphone. When I first got my hands on it, I wasn’t sure that I would see the need for a small recording device in the classroom, however, as the lesson went on it became more apparent how this type of technology would have its uses and linked into various curricular areas.

The Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland conducted a survey on a total of 93 children aged between 8 and 11 years. The aim of the research was to ‘help shape the approach to digital learning and teaching in Scotland’. It was found that children noted they already had access to a large amount of varying technologies at home and in their schools. Such technologies included: computers, cameras, iPods, smart phones, gaming consoles, smart watches and tablets to name a few. It is becoming evident by this type of evidence gained via research that children are well and truly exposed and immersed in the various types of technology that surround us in our environment and that they are familiar with their purposes and uses. Furthermore, research conducted by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) evidences the importance of technology in children’s education. They stated that “schools see technology such as games consoles and smartphones as playing an important role in primary-aged children’s education…” (Gurney-Read 2015). Today’s lesson allowed us to discover a new technological resource that can be used in the classroom and just one example of a way in which it enhances our young learner’s educational experiences.

The task we were given today was to create an ‘I am’ poem. This involved creating a poem of our own choice using opening lines already provided to us whilst using the Easi-Speak microphone to record sound clips from the poem. It allowed for us to be autonomous and put our creative skills to good use by writing through our own choice and basing it upon our own thoughts and feelings. The poem had to be presented on a PowerPoint presentation with copyright free images selected from a website called Pixabay. This came together as a multimodal text, as it contained sound clips, images and words along with spatial features that evidenced it to be multimodal. If this inout were to be delivered to a class there are various Experiences and Outcomes that it could cover, for example:

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

Within real and imaginary situations, I share experiences and feelings, ideas and information in a way that communicates my message. LIT 0-09a

I am aware of and able to express my feelings and am developing the ability to talk about them. HWB 0-01a/1-01a/2-01a/3-01a/4-01a

As stated by Beauchamp 2012 (p.81) “…Pupils need to be equipped to view language as a ‘metamode’ that enables them to access the meanings of a wide variety of texts, images, sounds and information…” If this type of lesson were to be delivered in the classroom, it would certainly support Beauchamp’s suggestion of children viewing language as being ‘metamode’. It allows for children to see that texts come in all different shapes and sizes and not solely just printed forms such as books and textbooks.

Overall, despite my initial thoughts on today’s input being somewhat reserved, I thoroughly enjoyed learning how to use the Easi-Speak microphones and viewing the end result. It supports various learning styles for children in the classroom along with bringing an element of fun into their day. Furthermore, it also supports their technological skills along with collaboration skills whilst working with a partner or s part of a group. Fast forwarding myself into a classroom of technology experts in the coming years, I look forward to putting to good use the skills and knowledge I have gained from taking this module. It will certainly set me in good stead for a career in which I can weave the many uses of technology throughout lessons and keep my prospective pupils educational journeys fun and engaging.

 

References

Children’s Parliament (2016) A Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland  – The Views of Children. [Online] Available at:  http://www.childrensparliament.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/REPORT_digital-learning-consultation_Childrens-Parliament-1.pdf. [First Accessed – 27/02/2018].

Beauchamp, G. (2012) ICT in the Primary School: From Pedagogy to Practice. Pearson.

Gurney-Read, J.(2015) Classroom Technology ‘rarely used’ by half of teachers. The Telegraph  [Online] 24 November 2015 [First Accessed: 28 February 2018]

Scottish Executive (2004) Curriculum for Excellence. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive

Animation!

This week in Digital Technologies we were learning about the art of animation. I would consider myself to be quite a crafty, creative person so for me this really got me excited and I wanted to jump right in and get started. After those initial feelings, I started to worry that maybe we wouldn’t have enough time to create an animation as 1 – I had never actually created an animation before so I didn’t know what kind of time frame it would take and 2 – I was feeling a bit wary of the resources we had available to us.

Today’s task was to create an animation of anything we wanted. This was an individual task however we were allowed to work in pairs if we wanted to and I thought that by working with another individual, in this case then two heads were better than one. Jarvis (2015, p.89) states that ”animation involves the stringing together a sequence of static images, generally so that they appear to move.” Having never strung any images together before in order for them to appear as though they were moving, I was still feeling a little apprehensive about the task.

Firstly, we began to explore the app ‘Puppet Pals’ which gave us some depth and knowledge into how an animation app works and the types of features and tools it has to allows us to create an animation that stood out and worked well. In this app we were to create a short animation based on a classic fairytale. It had to include voice recordings, movement from the characters, the characters changing size and also have a structure – a beginning, middle and an end. This short 10 minutes exploring the app put me at ease as it showed me how animation worked and the different features that could be used to create a strong animation.

Since the start of this module on digital technologies, it has left me feeling excited as a student teacher due to the amount of technology that is out there as a prospective teacher to be able to use with my future pupils. Reflecting back on my own time as a primary school aged child, there were nowhere near half the amount of fun and valuable resources that there are now in my educational journey and the thought of being able to use them while I was at school I know that not only me but my friends and peers would have had a great time using them. This simply just evidences how quickly the times move and how fast paced the development in technology has become. As suggested by Beauchamp, (2012) ICT allows pupils to ”achieve something that would be very difficult or even impossible to achieve in any other way.” Reflecting back on my first year school experience placement, I came across numerous children who all had their own individual learning style and watching them create or succeed through the use of digital technology was evidencing just how important the use of this tool is in the classroom. Furthermore, Beauchamp states that ”e-Inclusion aims to use digital technologies to minimise the problems that pupils with learning difficulties experience.” By giving all children in primary schools the same opportunities across their educational journey but in particular through access to technology, we are closing in on the gap of problems that pupils who have learning difficulties can experience.

After exploring puppet pals, my partner and I began to create our own props and scene for our own animation. We worked collaboratively and worked within our allocated time to create a short animation using small wooden characters who were school pupils, and a pink bendy character who was the class teacher. I created a backdrop by simply drawing and colouring a school classroom and by one of us recording and the other moving the characters in order for us to create a series of stills and frames, once put together they created our short animation. We added features including a clock which we moved in most frames to give the idea of time going by and changing some of the characters to represent different emotions during different parts of the scene. Once we completed our recording, we enjoyed looking back on the final piece and were really pleased with it. It is a great way for children to use their creative and cognitive skills along with their patience and persistence in order to create a piece of work that is effective, fun and created animations to a high standard. The tutorials and Moving Image Education website provided a lot of helpful hints and tips in order to produce a great animation despite it being my first time using and creating with this resource.

Having completed our animation and after watching it back, it gave me a sense of achievement as I was worried at the beginning having never made an animation before and not being sure of where it would fit into the classroom. However, after looking through the Scottish Education Experiences and Outcomes, it became a lot clearer that what we created linked to certain aspects of these, and in a classroom this type of technology would be an effective tool across many areas of the curriculum, such as:

I have the opportunity to choose and explore a range of media and technologies to create images and objects, discovering their effect and suitability for specific tasks. EXA 1-02a

I regularly select subject, purpose, format and resources to create texts of my choice. LIT 1-01a/2-01b

I enjoy exploring events and characters in stories and other texts and I use what I learn to invent my own, sharing these with others in imaginative ways. LIT 0-09b / LIT 0-31a

Animation could be used in a variety ways through a variety of areas in order to enhance pupils learning whilst supporting it at the same time. Despite my set backs at the beginning, throughout the course of creating the animation I found it to be a great task to collaborate on and a resource that I definitely would consider to be fun and educational for children across all levels at primary school. As suggested by Beauchamp (2012, p.66) ”ICT equipment is part of pupils’ everyday life, so should be part of their everyday play.” This type of technology tool would be an ideal resource to incorporate into a child’s everyday play as it encompasses a variety of skills and educational aspects that only impose positive aspects on the child.

References

›Beauchamp, G. (2012) ICT in the Primary Classroom: From Pedagogy top Practice. Pearson.

Education Scotland (2004) – Curriculum for Excellence; Experiences and Outcomes [Online] https://education.gov.scot/scottish-education-system/policy-for-scottish-education/policy-drivers/cfe-(building-from-the-statement-appendix-incl-btc1-5)/Experiences%20and%20outcomes [First Accessed on 22 February 2018]

›Jarvis, M. (2015) Brilliant Ideas for Using ICT in the Classroom: A Very practical Guide for Teachers and Lecturers. Routledge.