In the business world, gamification has become something of a buzzword. The idea is to take elements from digital games and add it to enhance a customer’s experience. In consumer websites and mobile applications, this can mean digital badges, leaderboards to track scores, levels to unlock, and other reward mechanisms.
Academics from the University of Leicester have been working with local Primary schools to research and develop pupils’ understanding of the law. Law in Children’s Lives is being touted as the first research project of its kind, and aims to explore children’s “understanding and opinions on issues such as gender equality, bullying, consumer rights and duty of care”. Researchers hope to use results to influence government policy in these areas.
“Stop throwing snowballs at those pupils or I else I’m going to have to freeze you!”
When you enter the world of MinecraftEdu, be prepared to say some pretty surreal things to pupils during your lessons. I used the exact words above a few days ago during a lesson using Minecraft when a pupil went ’virtually’ off-task, had figured out how to procure snowballs, then promptly began a one man crusade against his classmates! Happily no major incident ensued and the situation was easily remedied. After a few clicks on the teacher control panel, said pupil was frozen out of the world for a few minutes, reprimanded and the class continued. There are risks in trying something new in teaching and MinecraftEdu is not any different in that regard.
Gaming seems to be more popular than ever. As a child of the late Seventies, just BEFORE Space Invaders, video gaming has become a phenomena since the turn of this century. Even as some were worrying about the Millennium Bug, others could not have been more immersed in computing. 2000 saw Sony launch the PlayStation 2 for a staggering $299.99 (£150); with a built-in DVD player and back compatibility with PS1 games; every one of the 500,000 consoles produced sold out on Day 1. Following this, the only bug associated with computers was the sweeping-craze for gaming. 2008 saw the first ‘Video-game Tournaments’, as video-games became a fast-growing spectator sport with big tournaments like Unreal (held at Wembley Stadium) and the Championship Gaming Series (USA). Now eSports tournaments like the MLG have millions of registers users, with winners gaining millions of dollars for one video-game.
The kids we teach in our classrooms today are undoubtedly ‘digital natives’. Born in an age of established technology, the latest generation of students have grown up with clever gadgets and devices, leading to today’s youth having an unrivalled passion and understanding for the digital world. Research suggests that three quarters of children now use the internet at home, and nearly all use it at school, with around 41 percent of 9 to 19 year olds having access to the web each and every day. At a time when the traditional textbook is being phased out in favour of technology, it’s time for teachers to adapt their methods of delivering information to meet the contemporary needs of children growing up in the digital age.
Games have long been included in childhood educational techniques, as a means to enhance and expand upon more traditional methods. With the advancement of modern technology, the scope of educational gaming has increased to make room for additional platforms such as PCs, laptops, tablets and even mobile phones.