#mspiluk2011 Playful Learning

Ollie Bray, National Adviser for Emerging Technologies in Learning at Education Scotland

What can we learn from games?

Good teachers use good tools – Derek Robertson

We need to stop talking about the technology, and start focusing on the learning.

Good learning in classrooms requires interesting/engaging activities and good pedagogy.

Learning through play is valued. Learning through games is a form of play.


1. What makes a good game?

  • Challenge
  • Progression
  • Reward

We want classrooms to be like this too!

Computer games can develop resiliance through comfortable competitivity.
If they fail a test or assessment in school, children very rarely want to do it again and again to improve. This seems to be the opposite when playing computer games. Children want to do it again and again to improve their scores and progress in the game. This is non-threatening competitiveness that could be built into school assessment. 

We must capitalise on the cultural relevance of computer games. Children are choosing to engage with the media outside of the classroom. 

Computer games are a common language that can bring generations together. A comparison was made to the Olympics, which is, ultimately, a set of games that brings cultures and people together. 


2. Contextual Hubs

We must consider how we use games. There are lots of bad educational games but children tolerate this because it’s better than doing work. Games will be popular with children and they will love them until teachers get hold of them and ruin it! This is what we must avoid. 

Invest in good games, with excellent production value and bring in the learning.

Guitar Hero project (ideas):

  • Children think it’s about the game and don’t realise the learning (howeverthey should be aware of the learning) 
  • Day in the life of a rock star (writing)
  • song lyrics change into a story
  • research a band
  • advertise a concert
  • report on a concert
  • plan a world tour in groups (or bands). Work out where you are staying, visiting, calculate costs and environmental footprint, work as a team
  • acceptance speeches
  • design and make guitars

Lots of ideas for how to use Kinect were included in our conference packs.


3. Creating content

Kodu is a free programming package that I must look in to!

How to use Kodu tutorials on youtube.com/consolarium
Make sure children know where the videos are and they can watch and create themselves.


4. Learning from games

Ribbon hero concept released as a plug in for Microsoft Office – turns learning the – let’s face it – dull task of admin skills into a game.

Mouse Mischief – plug in mice to a normal powerpoint presentation and new forms of assessment and engagement are introduced.


We were left with this video, which for me, is incredibly exciting and inspiring and highlights how important it is to invest in this technology in the classroom now, in order to invest in the future’s of the children we teach.


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