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]

 

QR Codes and Outdoor Learning – 20th March

And so it has arrived, our final class in Digital Technologies. Today we explored and learnt about the use of QR (Quick Response) Codes and the benefits of Outdoor Learning. I have had some previous experience using QR codes but mainly through working in retail and through simple day to day tasks like shopping and using social media. I had never once considered the thought of using QR Codes in the classroom, until now. The theme of today’s lesson was to partake in an outdoor activity where we had to locate six hidden clues, answer the multiple choice questions and scan the QR code to be able to continue to the next clue. Once all the clues had been found and answered, each answer gave us a letter which in the end had to be unscrambled and the correct word made up. This word linked to a Scottish IDL topic. The purpose of using the QR Codes in this activity was designed to enhance our (and future pupils) outdoor learning experiences. This was just one example of how they could be used effectively and successfully as I and the rest of my team thoroughly enjoyed the activity.

The effectiveness of Outdoor Learning in education is outlined by Learning and Teaching Scotland (2010) who state that “…it’s clear that the outdoor environment offers motivating, exciting, different, relevant and easily accessible activities from pre-school years through to college.” This was certainly evidenced today in our group’s case as we all found the task fun, rewarding and enjoyable and found working outdoors also promoted other positive factors such as learning about the environment and creating memories that will be remembered for years to come. We collated images taken from our time outdoors in an app called PicCollage. PicCollage allows for many images to be organised together in various styles in the one image and is a great way of sharing with others in order to give a quick insight into a particular event or activity.

The Curriculum for Excellence support Outdoor Learning and this too is highlighted in the 7 Design Principles:

Challenge & Enjoyment; Breadth; Coherence; Personalisation & Choice; Relevance; Progression and Depth.

“The core values of Curriculum for Excellence resonate with long-standing key concepts of outdoor learning. Challenge, enjoyment, relevance, depth, development of the whole person and an adventurous approach to learning are at the core of outdoor pedagogy…” Education Scotland (2010)

Outdoor Learning offers a variety of positive effects on both student and learner: It allows for pupils and teachers to learn and communicate in other ways that maybe hadn’t been achieved previously in a classroom setting; promotes the building of positive relationships between both peers and professionals along with enhancing self-awareness and the understanding of others. (Education Scotland 2010). Along with the aforementioned aspects of Outdoor Learning it also promotes other advantages to our young learners such as: Developing their critical thinking and problem solving skills, personal development and achievement; promotes a healthy lifestyle and can lead to lifelong recreational hobbies such as walking, cycling and swimming; provides opportunities for children to develop skills in order to assess and manage risks; promotes inclusion and equality broadly and can lead to resolution, increased feeling of self-worth and confidence along with personal achievements.

There are many areas that both Outdoor Learning and QR Code activities could be used within the curriculum including Literacy, Health and Wellbeing and Modern Languages. The activity we completed today would encompass the following experiences and outcomes from the Curriculum for Excellence:

I can communicate clearly when engaging with others within and beyond my place of learning, using selected resources as required. LIT 1-10a

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 work on my own and with others to understand text using appropriate resources, demonstrating my
understanding by matching written words to pictures and by reconstructing the text in a logical sequence, for example. MLAN 2-08a

Upon completion of our class task, we then gathered back into the classroom to create our own activity based on the same ideas and principles of the one we had just completed. I chose to create a quiz based around the topic of Easter and was similar in format to the one we had just finished as a class. By doing so, it showed me just how easy it was to create a simple yet fun and fulfilling activity that I know children would get excited and geared up for and thus encourages their learning and enhances their experiences of education. In just 20 minutes I had created a relevant and educational activity that children would find engaging, fun and that they would certainly get excited about whilst being educational at the same time.

Overall, the use of the QR Codes in the outdoor learning activity allowed me to see yet another fantastic resource that could be utilised in many different areas of education whilst giving young learners fun and memorable educational experiences. I will certainly use this resource in the classroom as a professional and look forward to seeing my pupils reactions when they are participating and having fun outdoors. I know that they will get just as much as enjoyment and fulfilment out of a similar lesson as we did today in our last class of Digital Technologies.

So, today sees us at the end of our Digital Technologies journey with this being the last instalment of what I can only describe as being one of the most rewarding and educationally rich experiences I have had so far throughout my time at UWS.  Since starting the module back in January, taking us up until now – almost at the end of March – I can honestly say that my attitude towards technology both in and outside of the classroom has changed significantly from the opinions and feelings I presented towards it at the start of Trimester 2. I have gained a wealth of knowledge, ideas and skills through undertaking this module and I am so glad that I choose it as part of my BA1 learning experience. The lessons throughout the module have evidenced to me the clear links to education and curriculum and have allowed me the opportunity to delve deeper into areas of digital technology that I may never of had the chance to do so beforehand and for that I feel grateful and rewarded. I look forward to putting the skills and knowledge I have adopted in this short space of time into practice into what I hope will be a long and successful teaching career.

References

Curriculum for Excellence: Experiences and Outcomes. [Online]  Available at: https://education.gov.scot/Documents/all-experiences-and-outcomes.pdf. First Accessed: 21st March 2018.

Education Scotland (2010) Curriculum for Excellence Through Outdoor Learning.

Learning and Teaching Scotland (2010) Curriculum for Excellence Through Outdoor Learning