Saturday, January 26, 2008

Computer Games in Education

What have been some of the most profound things you have learnt through games and gaming.

I love games. I mean, who doesn’t love learning when it is highly interactive? I have always used games in my teaching. My most successful use of a computer game was the game ‘Amazon Trail’. It is a CD ROM that allows you to travel up the Amazon River as an explorer. You have to choose a guide which you can speak to and choose questions to ask - the guide talks to you and answers your questions. It is like an inset video. The game took me 3 weeks to play with my Grade 6 class as we often stopped to find out more through research. We had a giant map of the Amazon River along one side of the classroom on which we kept a record of our journey. Students also added clippings of their own further research into the places that we had visited. Each student also kept a travel diary of the trip. I really liked to use this game as it made the whole unit of explorers come alive.

Talk to some computer game players (a child, teenager and adult) and ask them what have learnt when they play the games.

My husband likes to play games on the PC as a way to unwind. He says that he has no expectations to learn anything from computer games. My students all play games and they tell me that they have learned a lot of different things depending on the game played. Mostly the games that they prefer are just for entertainment.

Do you have visions of how you might be able to use educational games in your out teaching or learning.
I am always on the look out for new games. I use them to keep my students interested in logging into the class blog. I am careful to choose games that relate to current learning. I originally used a non-educational game on my Grade 5 blog because they were a tough class to crack. They all told me that they hated computers! I needed to show them that I could be cool too and not always focussed on learning outcomes. It did the trick - most of the class now love blogging. At the moment I am using a game based a Famous Five story. It is CD ROM but very interactive and 3D like Second Life. My students are having to read the story so that they know what to do in the game. This is their first novel study and they are using an ebook with audiobook. It is working really well. We have even made a podcast about where the students think that the treasure is hidden.