Games-based Learning – Week 9

To start off today’s workshop we had a class check in. We discussed with the lecturer what key points our blogs should contain. Through this discussion I have realised that I want to make a conscious effort of weaving my reflections throughout my blog post. Also, to be careful that my reflective blog posts are not just descriptions.

Once we were finished with our check-in, we moved onto the technology we would be exploring. Today we were exploring games-based learning, specifically, Minecraft. I had never played Minecraft before and was not sure what to expect before coming to the session. Even as a child I was never into gaming, so I was unsure of how easy or difficult the game would be.

In today’s society gaming plays a major role in children’s everyday lives. In a recent study it was found that “almost 86% of 5-7 year old children and 90% of 8-11 year old children using gaming devices regularly” (Ofcom, 2011). Furthermore, gaming is a major part of youth culture in today’s society with nearly all children spending all of their free time away from school on games consoles or computer games they cannot play in school (Beauchamp, 2012).

As gaming plays a major role in most children’s everyday lives the connection between home and education can be made by introducing games-based learning into everyday lessons. Learning through play is becoming more popular with teachers as a way of teaching and games-based learning is a perfect example (Beauchamp, 2012). Bray (2012) states that Games-based Learning has the most transformational impact when it is combined with good learning and teaching. This displays that a game would have to have beneficial learning, or it wouldn’t be useful in developing a child’s skills. Furthermore, Bray believes that games should not be a reward but that they should be implemented as a new learning strategy. This would work well as it would engage and interest children because as teachers you are welcoming their interests from outside the classroom in.

Through gaming and ICT many skills can be developed:

  • Strategic Thinking
  • Planning
  • Communication
  • Application of numbers
  • Negotiating Skills
  • Group decision-making
  • Data Handling Skills.

(Beauchamp, 2012, p.10)

This displays how beneficial games-based learning could be in a classroom with many different and essential life skills being developed through one form of learning.

To start our session, we got to explore Minecraft Education. Minecraft Education is “A game-based learning platform with standards-aligned content across K12 subjects and special features designed for classroom use” (Minecraft Education Edition, online). As mentioned, I had never played Minecraft before and needed to learn the basic commands to get my avatar to move, to do this I started with the “how to play” levels. Throughout this time, I was getting slightly stressed as kept on forgetting what certain keys did, also it was frustrating when I couldn’t jump up onto something or break through a wall. Luckily, a group member had some prior knowledge and was able to give me some much-needed help along the way.

If I was to use this a teacher, I would need to ensure that my knowledge and skills of the programme were secure to ensure that the children got the best outcome from the lesson. However, Beauchamp believes that it is more critical to have secure knowledge of the curricular area you are working in more than understanding the gaming (Beauchamp, 2012). I agree with Beauchamp, however, personally I would still develop my understanding with Minecraft Education because I feel insecure and wouldn’t want to pass those feelings to the children that I am teaching. Furthermore, personally developing my skills in gaming would work towards the Scottish Government’s goal of developing skills of educators (Scottish Government, 2016).

Once we had explored, we were to think, in groups, about how Minecraft Education could be used in interdisciplinary learning (IDL). We based our learning around the topic of Medieval Times and covered the areas technology, literacy, art, numeracy and social studies. We were given an IDL plan sheet and were to write down our ideas that we would then present to the class.

In the first area of focus the children were to plan and create their own medieval castle using Minecraft Education and discuss with other peers about why they used certain materials. We would then develop this further by writing imaginative stories based on the world they had created whilst displaying their knowledge of the medieval times. Furthermore, the children could then create a replica of their castle using 2D shapes, linking the 3D blocks to 2D shapes. Finally, all of this links in with social studies by investigating and discovering castles and life in the medieval era. Through our IDL plan many skills were developed and attributes of the four capacities were used (please see photo). As we had aimed our IDL plan at first level there are many outcomes that could be developed, here I have identified just a few:

  • Using digital technologies responsibly I can access, retrieve and use information to support, enrich or extend learning in different contexts. TCH 1-02a
  • I can use exploration and imagination to solve design problems related to real-life situations. EXA 1-06a
  • I can use evidence to recreate the story of a place or individual of local historical interest.  SOC 1-03a
  • I have explored simple 3D objects and 2D shapes and can identify, name and describe their features using appropriate vocabulary. MTH 1-16a
  • I am learning to use my notes and other types of writing to help me understand information and ideas, explore problems, generate and develop ideas or create new text.     LIT 1-25a

Please see the picture below of our IDL plan.

By having the opportunity to create our own IDL plan I believe that Minecraft Education is a brilliant tool to be used in schools as there are many learning opportunities from just one lesson. Also, children can develop many life skills, for example, planning, evaluating and problem-solving all from one lesson.

Overall, I really enjoyed learning about games-based learning and being able to use an IDL plan as it further displayed to me how digital technologies can be used in the classroom and this was the first time, we had ever got to experience planning as student teachers. However, I think I can safely say I am not a gamer, but I am always willing to learn more about Minecraft education because of all its benefits.

Sophie


References:

  • Beauchamp, G. (2012) ICT in the Primary Classroom: From Pedagogy top Practice. Pearson.
  • Scottish Government. (2016) Enhancing Learning And Teaching Through The Use of Digital Technology: A Digital Learning And Teaching Strategy For Scotland. Edinburgh: Scottish Government

 

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