A new report examining the role computer and video games can play in education was released today by ELSPA (the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association), in association with the UK Department for Education and Skills’.
Entitled ‘Unlimited Learning: The role of computer and video games in the learning landscape’ it uses a number of exclusive case studies on the benefits of games when used in learning. An example is a college in Nottinghamshire who results appear to be near unbelievable. They’ve seen key skills increase to a 94% success rate, compared to the national benchmark of 22%. They attribute much of this to incorporating the commercial game ‘Neverwinter Nights’ into its teaching plan.
Lord Puttnam of Queensgate CBE summarised, all be it at length, the major points, highlighting the strengths of the method, “Increasingly video games are being recognised as a powerful tool for learning. Yes of course they are entertaining and a lot of fun, but they’ve also the ability to inspire and motivate. They hold out the tantalising prospect of personalised, responsive and thoroughly enjoyable learning experiences, irrespective of age, or ability. They can promote ideas, they can stimulate conversation, challenge thinking and, critically for the future of our highly skills-dependent economy, they can encourage problem solving.”
Some will find it surprising that it’s not just young joystick twitchers that are benefiting from learning through games. E-learning expert, Professor Stephen Heppell, who has been studying this area for years explained, “The curious thing is that we’re seeing people playing games and challenging themselves with their computers right across the age range, literally womb to tomb. (We take our hat off to him for being the first person to use the ‘Womb to Tomb’ phrase, which, from this point forward, we will never tire of using.)
Of course there will be many cries of education being dumbed down, but I clearly remember chatting to friends at school about how much easier it would be if what we needed to learn could be set to music – given that we knew the lyric of every song that we liked.