It’s a quiet week here in the advisors office, though over in the teachers centre there is great activity as Lorraine Dawes assists teachers in the production of LGFL Learning Modules. Look out for these, as these should be even better than last year, particularly with the introduction of some new adaptatamation slide shows.
Next week the ICT room gets a bit of an upgrade. Not only will there be new faster PCS, there will also be a bit of a tidy up and hopefully brighter walls. Some of those displays date back to pre-Internet days. I was never a massive display fan when I was a proper teacher, but I did recognise what it did to improve the teaching environment. What’s more it also cheered me up when I walked into a room of bright walls, photographs of learning and the odd Doctor Who poster. Actually, I wonder if I can put any Dr Who posters up in S4?
Last week I went to a 2Simple day at the ITLE in Shoreditch. I was blown away! The day featured a presentation from Max Wainwright on personalised learning and computer games. Obviously he was couching his talk around their new Maths Games, but what he said made a lot of sense. Gaming is sizzling on the DFES Barbecue of education items at the moment and it’s easy to get burned (ooh bad metaphor there folks!) Anyway he described what makes a bad educational games- the kind that asked you a question and then returned applause or a long and distracting reward for an answer. These he called the Laughing Clown Syndrome. Other games that we definitely want to avoid are those that portray violence or in appropriate behaviours.
We watched video clips of children describing why they enjoyed playing games and they referred to being able to blowing people up and they also talked about the freedom that gaming allows you. He quoted some NAACE research which spoke asked children about games and what they liked and disliked. Basically they disliked games that were too easy and dislike assignments that were too hard.
Max went onto describe the concept of gaming ‘flow’. This is basically the feeling a good game gives you and is the feeling that keeps you hooked. Flow is basically being ‘in the zone’ of the game, beating the opposition, conquering the beasts and then moving on, without the annoying dancing clowns! Obvisouly games need to be practised but it seems those that are too easy become boring.
I hope that précis makes sense and I hope, like me, it started to make you think a little about the role of computer games in education. It’s not something I’d thought about massively to be honest. My experience and definition of educational games is based on the primary games from Interactive ( http://www.primarygames.co.uk/ ) I have seen these used as a bit of a filler or a misplaced starter on a whiteboard, where one child is chosen to play or answer the questions while others look on (or look out of the window). That’s not to put down these games they are very good, I just haven’t observed them being used well, maybe you have?
Thursday, July 27, 2006