Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

Research Results on Serious Play in Classrooms


In 2012 researchers from three universities (Griffith University, Queensland University of  Technology and Deakin University) along with researchers at the National Institute of Education in Singapore commenced a three-year study into how schools can and are using computer games to support student learning.

This research focuses on learning and teaching with computer games in Australian classrooms. Twenty schools and fifty teachers in Queensland and Victoria are involved in the project from all school sectors and levels. The preliminary account has provided details of the concepts underlying the research and reports on some initial findings from the early stages of the research process.

Student digital experiences (Jenkins, 2006) are a “participatory culture” in which they are producers, not just users, of digital culture. The capacity of computer games to engage players in challenging and complex ways has been explored by educators in many parts of the world. Moving from seeing games as simply a way to promote the more efficient transmission of information to exploring how games might promote deep learning in discipline areas, teach critical reflective competence with new literacies, and promote imagination and creativity is the high expectation on game-based learning but needs much deeper understanding and more interdisciplinary efforts.

The research is innovative in five ways:

1. in bringing sociocultural and new literacies research on students out-of-school engagement with computer games and digital culture to bear on the study of games-based learning in school;

2. in exploring the use of games to support learning across a range of curriculum areas, and with diverse groups of teachers, students and schools. Where studies of the use of individual games, or games in individual subject areas exist, this is the first Australian research to look at a range of uses of games across the curriculum from sociocultural perspectives;

3. in providing the opportunity for Australian schools to benefit from access to state of the art international games currently under development under the leadership of Associate Professor Yam San Chee of the National Institute of Education, Singapore;

4. in providing three parallel games-based strands (game use, game analysis, and game making) within schools for researching changes to pedagogy, literacy, learning and assessment: the use of ‘serious’ and commercial games to support learning in the discipline areas; the critical analysis of games as text; the making of games and the uses of games to promote creativity; and

5. in undertaking multi-age cross-disciplinary research on best practice approaches to the use, analysis and making of games across the primary and secondary schools.

Three insights from initial findings are shared :

1. the readiness of teachers to engage with computer gaming in schools: there is a distinct gap exists between teacher experiences with games(lower) and the experiences of their students and general population;

2. a process for selection of computer games for use in schools: teachers have a need for a model for the selection of games for use in the classroom, a GPACK(silimar concept from TPACK) model creates intersections with choices of particular Games and Pedagogies, Games and Content, and Pedagogies and Content, suggesting that when each of these is appropriate, the most effective learning should occur;

3. a warning to computing educators over the reframing of computer games in schools: computer educators may need to reassert the place of computing in educational gaming, the warning is about more focus on student learning how to integrate computer use into all subject areas (ICT) with a diminishing focus on programming, game development, and the study of computing.

serious play research, game-based learning

For the detailed documentation about the preliminary research results, please follow this link: Serious Play, from Australian Computers in Education Conference 2012, this conference will investigate how ICT can allow all people including those with diverse skills and thinking strategies become lifelong creative learners.

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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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