Use of electronic games in schools highlighted at EMINENT Conference
How electronic games can be used in school to teach in innovative ways was the topic of a workshop at the EMINENT Conference on 4-5 December 2008. The initial findings of the Electronic Games in Schools study, conducted by European Schoolnet with the financial support of the International Software Federation of Europe (ISFE), was presented to participants at the workshop. EMINENT is European Schoolnet's annual networking event, bringing together more than 240 policy makers, industry representatives and education practitioners.
Patricia Wastiau from the EUN Office was chairing the session. She described early results of the EUN study (July 08-April 09) which is currently underway. Focusing on eight countries (Austria, France, Denmark, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK), the study covers a wide range of games on many devices (e.g. handhelds, mobile phones, PC, consoles etc.).
A literature review and early results from the teachers' survey which is currently being conducted show that teachers still lack knowledge concerning the use of electronic games and are still shy of using this form of innovating teaching, partly due to a lack of accessibility to the necessary technology.
Other early results of the survey indicate that the main subject areas where games are mostly used are foreign languages, technology and the home language.
The workshops also identified other ongoing research and projects in this area, featuring innovative ways of using electronic games in teaching:
- Keimpe de Heer from Waag Society (NL) about the ‘Games Atelier’, which allows the creation of simple location-based games (http://live.7scenes.com)
- Romano Nesler and Rebecca Vernon from IPRASE (IT) about a series of electronic games and a study used to analyse the impact on teaching and learning (http://www.iprase.tn.it)
- John Klesner, a Danish teacher, about ‘Mobile Learning and web 2.0’, exploring the boundaries between formal and informal learning using mobile phones
A podcast with Keimpe de Heer and John Klesner was recorded at EMINENT about their views on the use of games in schools. For Keimpe, games support intrinsic motivation and they can also be used to make education more attractive, flexible and connected to the idea of education as 'independent of time and place'. In Denmark, John explained that students using games for learning have new possibilities for collaboration and communication which is a real added value. Both experts concluded the interview by explaining that the teacher is the key to making the use of games in the classroom a success: "We have to convince teachers that games are the instrument which can make education more attractive and they have to overcome the fear of the unknown. The other challenge we have to overcome is that games do not explicitly connect to the curriculum, to be used in class. Games need to follow education criteria set up by the Ministry".
EMINENT 2008 Podcast: Episode 5: Interview (Games in Schools) with Keimpe de Heer, Waag Society, the Netherlands and John Klesner, teacher and ICT adviser, Søndervangskolen Hammel, Denmark
Interviewed by Caroline Kearney, European Schoolnet