Why would you consider using video games for learning? Is it just a learning fad to appeal to learners with a touch of technological glamour, or is there something more profound in educational terms that means we should pause and take notice of the games-based learning revolution taking place in many schools?
Tim Rylands is an inspirational and award-winning teacher from near Bristol, in the U.K.–a teacher with a love of the creative potential of technology and an excellent rapport with the students and teachers with whom he works. Tim’s imaginative and encouraging style of teaching, and particularly his use of video games for learning, allows children to express their creativity and make significant gains in attainment.
I spent some time with Tim this summer just after we had both worked with Sugata Mitra at a regional technology conference, an event where the same message was prevalent in every keynote and seminar: Put the learning in the students’ hands. Sugata had talked about the finds he and his research team have made through the Hole In The Wall project, where learning “ATMs”–yellow kiosks containing Internet-connected computers placed at child height on the street–resulted in young street children learning English, math, geography, and science content, for example, in a very swift period of time. There were no teachers; the children simply learnt for themselves and from each other in order to do what they wanted to do on the computer. Educational games were among the most popular activities.
Tim, on the other hand, is part of a burgeoning group of educators using video games–not educational but commercial, off-the-shelf video games that most children will come across in the mall on a Saturday afternoon. The power behind these games for learning is unparalleled, says Tim, in our latest GETideas video interview.
Here is my favorite quote from the interview:
I like the games-based stuff because when you go into a game you don’t know what to do–and that’s a bit like life, isn’t it? You don’t get born with a set of instructions on your head saying you’re going to be teacher, do you? For me the whole thing was about changing the perception that children aren’t able to guide their own learning.
- Watch this film of Tim teaching using the video game Myst.
- Hear some of the language stimulated in such classes.
- Get more ideas for games-based learning on GETideas.org here and here.