Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

Game-Based Learning in Czech Primary Schools


envigame projectThe Envigame project was created to address Czech teachers’ lack of methodological guidance and practical educational materials. Its outcomes are a set of educational programs in the form of interactive digital games and methodological aids. The project introduces a platform where most materials are uploaded and organized as game scenarios. It succeeds in linking Environmental Education (EE), a transversal theme in the  Czech Primary School system, with ICT use.

Playing envi-games involves work in outdoor territory and execution of indoor activities with the use of computers, mobile phones and game platform. Ten schools and 300 pupils engaged in the pilot are mapping ecosystem and species biodiversity, cultural and historical heritage, use of natural resources, health and healthy lifestyle on local level all over the Czech Republic.

The first pillar of this project is game-based learning concept. Important aspects from the pedagogical point of view, are the reality of games with the social context, development of cultural critical and creative literacy of players and at the same time it represents a “window to culture (in this case environmental culture)”.

The game is played by teams consisting of five and more players, roles within the team are divided by the players’ skills (“technician”, communicator, task editor etc.). Team has to fulfill levels of the game, the game is linear. Each game level has several tasks in various complexities. Those tasks are to be carried out within the school – mostly at the computer lab and/or outside the school in nature or town environment. The team either divides, and the game is played in parallel mode, or the game is played in sequences (firstly the whole team plays outdoors, then indoors).

The second pillar of the project emphasizes practical use of the game and ready-to-use methodology for teachers. There are seven games on the platform (also called game scenarios) in ready-to-use status with different lengths. The content of the game has been created by the group of experts in the field of environmental education, thus there is a very small need from the teachers to work on the predefined games, they only have to adopt games to the local conditions before it is launched (insert GPS, define some places or species etc.).

Actual results show the game is easier for pupils than for adults to play, but motivation seems to be a challenging aspect of Envigame. Although pupils like to use ICT, if the level or task is difficult to solve, they lose their “drive” for playing. However, the content of the game has been very welcomed by the teachers. Students’ reaction was also very positive mainly because of the integration of new appliances (GPS, smart phone, digital cameras) and creative work (students had to work with many kinds of different software – mostly open source). Social networking improved, especially on those school combining different age groups.

The aim of the project is to introduce new ICT to teachers, not only as tools but also as sources changing the character and teaching style in particular subjects. This project is going to expand further, and you can find the original paper here: Envigame – Linking Environmental Education to ICT in Czech Primary Schools. (licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivativeWorks 3.0 Unported licence)
photo credit: Vicki’s Nature via photo pin cc

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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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