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October 16, 2006

Using games in education

I've just got round to reading the final report of Teaching with Games - a one year FutureLab project supported by Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Take-Two and ISFE.  Questions over whether it is appropriate for the games industry to directly support this kind of research aside, it seems to me that the key findings listed in the executive summary are worth seeing written down somewhere - though I don't suppose that any of them are particularly surprising or controversial?  It is at least reassuring to note:

Using games in a meaningful way within lessons depended far more on the effective use of existing teaching skills than it did on the development of any new, game-related skills.

And there was me thinking that I might become a great teacher just by being a whizz at Rollercoaster Tycoon! :-)

The Eduserv Foundation funds some work in this area - a project by Diane Carr, Eduserv Research Fellow at the Institute of Education, called Digital technology: learning and 'game formats'. Computer games, motivation, and gender in educational contexts. Diane's research aims to investigate the actual and potential benefits of computer game formats in educational settings, looking at issues like:

Why are computer games so captivating? Are computer games intrinsically motivating? What of 'bad' games? What of the relationship between learning-to-play, structure, and content in games? How do context and gender shape players' motivation?

For those wanting to get a good overview of this area, the slides presented by John Kirriemuir at the Ticer (digital library) Summer School (warning: large PPT file) earlier this year are pretty good.  There is a particular focus on the use of games in libraries, but actually the presentation is of more general interest I would say - I found it quite a useful way of getting up to speed.


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