Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

As engaging as computer games

In Uncategorized on January 24, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Let me start of by saying that I am not one of those who advocates  that all teaching should be done through a games environment but I do believe that games do have their place in education but like all things it is the ‘right tool at the right time’. Those of us who have watched children and teenagers in particular will be very aware how engrossed that they get when inovlved in computer games. They will play for hours and often not making any real progress, probably trying the same level or activity time and time again, yet if we compare this to the way that they approach work in schools we dont seem to get the same approach. So my question is why is it that they can focus on these activities for sustained periods of time (in many cases longer than is really healthy!), accept failure as part of the process, show a willingness to keep trying until they get it right and the the determination to succeed. Aren’t many of these atributes the same as the ones we are looking for in learning? If the answer is yes then how do we harness this? I don’t believe that playing computer based games or simply by  putting content on to the internet will solve the problem but i think that if we are going to turn children into life long learners we need to find a way to make learning as engaging as computer games appear to be.

What are the key features of these games that engage students – challenge, interaction, immediate feed back, rewards, progression, competition (perceived or otherwise) and success. If teaching can harness some or all of these features then I feel we have a chance of engaging learners in the same way that the games do, we have to move away from a ‘TV’ approach of delivery. Again those who have teenagers will be very aware that they don’t engage with TV unless they other things going on and are often not there most receptive in this mode, try asking one what the show was about or see how long they will actually concentrate without doing something else  such as text, BBM or check out Facebook.

What students want is to be stimulated, engaged and challenged not just to be static, passive receivers of content. So lets take a lead from computer games and lets see how we can  apply these principles to what we do and see what difference that makes.


Developing digital literacy – secret champions

In Uncategorized on January 17, 2012 at 9:20 pm

As we move further into the digital age, we see more and more students using the internet to source information and create documents using this information. In many cases this has been done with little or no thought about the valididty of the content or the recognition on the ownership and intellectual property rights. If we are not careful we will have developed a ‘copy and paste generation’ who will loose the capacity to question or challange anything. Look at the growth in the use of sites such as Wikipeadia and yet we now see colleges refusing to accept anything refernced form this site due to the nature of the way it is managed. If we are to avoid the potential risk of students falling foul of plagarism or simply believing that ‘if its on the web it has got to be true’ then we need to get pro-active to providing them with the tools and the thinking capacity to undertsand the web and the content they find. Alan November tells an interesting story about a student called Zac and how he fell foul of this lack of understanding  and although it is an old tale, it is becoming even more relative in the current climate. Follow this link to find out more. This highlights the issue that we are seeing and my question is how do we go about making students ‘digitally literate’. In mant cases we have a disjoint between what we would deem normal literacy and digital literacy as they are seen as two separate entities yet in many cases they are closely linked; reading content, making sense of it, validating it and identifying bias are all skills that someone who reads newpapers or researches would be expected to perform when using books and in many cases this activity would be supported by librarians and those who work within these kind of facilities, so why not get them to develop the same approach to the digital world. After all we are seeing many schools renaming the resouces to such things as Learning Resource Centres with greater numbers of devices in them with internet access. So doesn’t it make sense to work with these people to create  literacy champions who can address both real virtual worlds and transfer their knowlewdge of both to the students they work in real contexts rather just leave it to the ICT department to do a short course as part of a scheme of work. In many cases they will be able to support students to make sense of what they are looking at and think about what they present rather both in class and in their ‘libraries’ and help them move away from the Wikipeadia dependent culture which we are in fear of developing.

Useful links

Designing Libraries: Learning for a Lifetime

Developing digital literacy