Monday, 26 May 2008

Using technology for learning - Nintendo Games

A few months ago I was talking to Professor Stephen Heppell about the new Brain Games available from Nintendo and the small handheld consoles. As we 'played' with one we talked seriously about if schools got students to do, for example, the maths games for a few minutes every morning, it was bound to develop their mental agility and ability to undertake maths activities.
I smiled therefore this weekend to read in the UK media that Oakdale School, in South Woodford, Essex (a junior school) was, reportedly, the first in the country to use Nintendo games to teach students. In reality the story SHOULD have read the first in the Borough! (A slightly more realistic claim). Students are now given these handheld consoles which they use for 20 minutes a day. The games used test mental agility with maths puzzles and logic games. The teacher has already noted that students "progress is amazing — and they work in silence.” However, I am, sure that I have read similar stories about schools comparing student performance between classes with one using these devices and classes that didn't. I have forgotten the details however so can't quote them.
It was inevitable that schools would trial this technology and I quite certain that many more will follow in the very near future. This is exactly the form of technology that attracts students, where they can work at their pace, not waiting for others in the class and is purely educational.
I am not quite sure why all schools are not already exploring this excellent device really. Equally with schools around the country working in this way- why aren't they communicating with each other to promote the benefits of this way of working?


Ewan McIntosh said...

Hi Gareth,

I'd be surprised that Oakdale were the first school to be using these. We had schools using Kawashima at the beginning of last year, and their action research showed an increase in both numeracy and self-perception.

Derek Robertson, my colleague at LTS, has now been working with our inspectorate with over 1000 students in a larger research project with the DSes, and has continued to set schools off with projects set around other games on the DS. My favourite is the Nintendogs one, where students run their own dog competition businesses and do amazing creative writing:

I was in Redbridge last week, where I think Oakdale is, and they are doing sterling work. The more schools connect with each other through social media the better, to make sure that we can learn from each other rather than bash on without the understanding gained from each other's projects.

Thankfully, there are many schools, in Scotland at least, where games-based learning, using both pupils-bought and school-bought consoles and games, is has been taking off for some time. Long may it continue.

Gareth Long said...

Thanks Ewen. I must admit to being surprised if it was the first - I was quoting the British press on this. I thought I had also read of one school comparing student performance by using these devices in one class and comparing to performance with a peer group.

However - at least the word is getting out that game based learning has an important place in schools.

Anthony Evans said...

Hello Gareth - no they are certainly not the first- this tsory was picked up by the Sun- not the most reputable of UK newspapers. The original story started life in our local paper, where we hoped that it would be reported that the school was the fisrt in the borough- ie the fisrt out of 53 schools. Show how things can get blown out of proportion!

Gareth Long said...

Hi Anthony. Thanks for the clarification. I was not sure of the paper involved and have amended the post accordingly. I am keen for accuracy in every post as so many people hit my blog.

Having said that, I am pleased that your school is the first in the borough and I commend the school for it's sensible and forward thinking approach to students engagement in their learning - I hope many more follow - it really is the way forward!