Last week I attended the European Council of International School’s (ECIS) annual I.T conference in Frankfurt. One of the key interests for many of the attending educators revolved around the release of the 2011 Horizon Report. The report itself focuses on developmental trends and the future impacts of technology within education in the next 5 years.
An aspect of the report examined the future of Game Based Learning in Education. Bill MacKenty, the Director of Technology at the American School of Warsaw, and a presenter at the conference, spoke on the impact of Gaming in education. Bill argues that there is no better way to challenge, motivate, engage or develop higher order thinking skills within our students than with the use of games, provided eductors are savy about the selection and employment of these.
Bill sees learning through ‘Play’ as the pest possible platform for learning to be more meaningful and instrinsic. This is however, nothing new. Piaget, Vygotsky and even Reggio Emilia’s Approach to developmental play in preschool education centres, prior to WWII, has impacted on education greatly, particularly in emphasising the role that the classroom environment plays in educating. What is new though, is the way in which Bill sees the context and benefits of play here in the 21st Century classroom.
David Williamson Shaffer, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of ‘How Computer Games Help Children Learn‘ (2006), in his book discusses the importance of Epistemic Games: “Games which are fundamentally about learning to think in innovative ways”, and how we as educators need to challenge the fact based…, pen paper test…, how much can you remember?.., educative practises.
One of the main critisisms of Game Based Technologies in Education, is the impact (or the lack of) on the social development of our students, paricularly in high school. However, I advocate that children need to be challenged in their real world context, engaging them in their interests and allowing them to share and develop their ideas, particularly in miltiplayer games and games which are serious in nature. Take a look at the game Peacemaker….