Students making games to help them learn

Piers YoungNotesLeave a Comment

This, from link: EdTech Toolbox, is really exciting.

I had a student approach me today with a game that he has based around the unit of work that we are studying. Each of the students negotiate their own research based on their understanding of the concepts covered by the unit.

He has used Game Salad as a way of building a game where the player must safely transport a 19th poster to the print factory. The concept of the game is that the player must learn about the effect of technology on late 19th century art movements and how it changed artistic practice.

Greg also links to Adrian Camm’s fantastic resource:

http://gamesined.wikispaces.com/

Using gaming as a vehicle for learning is a very powerful idea and one that is under-utilized.

This wiki is an attempt to create a comprehensive resource about gaming that we can all learn from – all contributions welcome!

And it’s certainly comprehensive.

But it’s that idea of children creating their own games – online or not – that I find most exciting. I have tried simple versions in class – Greek Myth Top Trumps etc – and these always go down a storm. In the same vein, I had one student, Jake, who developed his own board game from scratch, coming in with a large piece of cardboard, some special dice and a list of rules. I wanted to see how much of the “content matter” had sunk in – i.e. the facts that he might be tested on in a normal summative assessment – and asked him a few questions. He knew them all and looked at me as though I was missing the point. (He is a boy who will go far!)

How, though, does one channel the enthusiasm into a viable school setting? The idealist will change the school setting, but given that some of us might have to do that through erosion rather than earthquake, I’m curious to know various things. First, is there a methodology or rubric for helping children learn through designing their own games? That’s definitely something that I need to research and think about more. Equally, it’d be great if the games could encourage different types of learning: so not just playing to the strengths of Trivial Pursuit memory champs but fostering spatial, manual, Gardner-esque intelligences too.

Still, lots for me to think about.


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