Using games to teach is hard. Over the past ten years, research has repeatedly shown that, despite the clear potential for games to play a powerful role in formal curricular teaching, the complexity of the classroom context and the pedagogic tensions created when entertainment games are used in the school environment make using them effectively a far from simple proposition. Yet the enthusiasm of teachers, developers, researchers and students for making use of games’ capacity to inspire and engage remains unabated. Ignoring a form of media that enjoys such wide currency in society simply isn’t an option for educators.
So how do we start to make sure games are used meaningfully in schools? Playware have been working closely with schools across Singapore to learn more about the ways in which their 3DHive platform fits into classroom practice. This is valuable not only for the technological development team, who gain vital insights into the actual needs of the users they serve, but also for the company’s efforts to provide the best support they can to schools and educators trying to get the most out the platform. Knowing more about the whole process of using 3DHive means better quality guidance for educators.
As part of this effort, I’ve been talking to teachers in one particular school who are using 3DHive in their teaching, joining their lessons and learning more about their teaching aims. I’m an education researcher with an interest in using digital games for learning, and together with teachers in one Singapore primary school I’ve been working over the last couple of months to collect data that will help us build a better understanding of the wider context in which 3DHive is being used. We were interested in three key areas: the performance of the software, the process teachers went through in designing lessons for it, and the outcomes that were seen in lessons.
The video data, interview transcripts, observation notes and lesson artefacts are still being analysed, and a full account of what we learn will be shared at the upcoming International Council for Educational Media conference in October, after analysis is complete. But in the meantime I thought it would be useful, over the next couple of articles, to share some of the initial broad themes that starting to become clear.
These are early findings, and the full picture might look a little different after more analysis. I hope, though, that for teachers and developers thinking about using games in a school setting, there might be some food for thought in here. See you in part 2!