Archive for March, 2011

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 evenĀ 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….


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The integration of technology into the curriculum for many seasoned educators can become a point of frustration; ‘What to teach?’, ‘How to teach it?’, ‘Why should I teach it? – I do Maths’. Though no one can deny the pace of technological change is at times frustrating to keep up with, I’m always amazed with how many people seem to be like a bug attracted to the car headlight on the freeway. Eventually, you will be smacked right in the face with it – whether it be in your personal or professional lives.

Technological advancement, and the use of Web 2.0 tools has seen an access to information previously not heard of. The personalisation of curriculum and teaching to a point of need has made the constructivist approach to teaching much more meaningful for both students and educators to employ. And YES I did say students. Stephen Downes in his column titled “A World of Change”, discusses need to embrace Web 2.0 technologies as Personalised Interactive Learning Environments by both teachers and students.

Whilst reading another of my collegues blogs some time ago, I came across the Khan Academy and I was not only excited by the prospect of this in the realm of education, but it also became an eye-opener into how I can utilise this within the classroom to help my students, and to differentiate the curriculum. I can suppose that for most of us having 30 groups of activities on Mathematics going in the classroom, at the same time, can be a little bewildering and extremely disempowering. Yet, watch the below clip and tell me it’s not possible with the right resources and management strategies…..

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