Tuesday 6 December 2016

How video games can help your child in the classroom after all

Patrick Kelleher

Published 30/08/2016 | 02:30

The award-winning game Minecraft is already being used as a way to improve ‘computational thinking’, or the ability to think about and solve problems.
The award-winning game Minecraft is already being used as a way to improve ‘computational thinking’, or the ability to think about and solve problems.

Games can help students to learn and can motivate them in classrooms from primary to third-level, new research has revealed.

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The research will be discussed at the Irish Game-Based Learning (IGBL) conference, which takes place later this week at Trinity College Dublin.

The award-winning game Minecraft (pictured) is already being used as a way to improve 'computational thinking', or the ability to think about and solve problems.

The merits of Minecraft will be discussed at the conference this week, with researchers saying the game can help children to move away from rote-learning.

The game has already been used in classrooms and has shown positive results for the students who use it.

Other findings to be presented include the implementation of a business-based game for marketing students at Trinity College Dublin (TCD).

Professor Mairead Brady, who designed and researched the game for her students, said it had a "huge effect".

"It gives them a sense of decision-making in a controlled environment," she told the Irish Independent.

"If they were making these decisions in real life they could lose or make this company millions. But they can make them in a protected environment and all they do is lose ranking or lose face among the students on where they rank."

Prof Brady said it "makes the textbook come alive" and hopes to see game-based learning become more prevalent at third-level.

Figures from the US show 155 out of 220 million people play games on a regular basis, and four out of five households now own a video-game device.

"Across the world the population that are playing games is enormous," Prof Brady added.

Some of the other research that will be discussed at the conference will include the challenges of teaching Irish, and how game-based learning can enhance it.

Neil Peirce, technology lead and co-chair of the conference, said that game-based learning was broadening across all levels.

But he said that the high cost of developing game-based learning models could be off-putting for educators.

He said teachers should have a clear vision of what they want to achieve when implementing game-based learning in their classrooms.

"Game-based learning isn't going to replace the classroom teacher. That's not what it's there for. It's there to supplement and compliment the existing teaching."

The conference on Thursday and Friday will include academic presentations, practical workshops and game demonstrations and is aimed at educators, researchers and the ed-tech industry sector.

Irish Independent

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