Session 6: The Intro to Computing … & Game Based Learning!

Unfortunately, I missed this session due to timetabling issues, but when I saw the session title which I had missed in the ICT handbook, I almost cried. (That’s an exaggeration of course.)

GAME BASED LEARNING?! But that’s my speciality! Gaming is something I love doing so much I actually lose sleep over it when engrossed in a game I am addicted to… (e.g. The Sims 3 – when I get to the point where I watch my latest Sims  sleep and notice it’s 3am, I know I really should be cutting down on playing it. See image…)

I did a little background reading on game-based learning by researching on t’internet, and whilst watching different talks from the ICT Handbook, and skim-reading blogs, one thing remained at the front of my mind: LeapFrog.

Every Sunday at Church, there’s one particular adorable 5 y.o. boy who has a little “LeapsterGS” thingie-majiggie. He got it for Christmas because his older brother and sister have Nintendo DSs. He was showing me how to use it, and I was impressed by how much he hd learnt through it – especially on his Disney’s Cars game.

It actually quite incredible how much children learn through play – and I really believe there isn’t much wrong with young people gaming. Of course, there is this issue with super-violent game which look at the themes of sex, drugs & rock’n’roll. I wouldn’t let an 18 y.o. play it, let alone an 8 y.o. but even the most violent games can be educational. For example, Grand Theft Auto teaches young people about crime, and what is considered to be illegal – like mutilating an innocent old lady and nicking her car. I wouldn’t let kids play it though…

Grand Theft Auto is actually available on iPhone, Android and iPad now, which makes it even more accessible to the wrong kinds of people but never mind! iPads, though, are generally fantastic for using in schools. In fact, a lot of schools are investing in them to enhance the learning experience. This website is an interesting read to give a little insight into how teachers can use iPads.

I think iPads are great for using in schools throughout all the curriculum. I used iPads in other lessons like Art and Music. In Art, we created images on the iPads, and in Music, we, obviously, made music. They were great to play around with and simple to use, whilst being educational. Personally, I feel that all schools should have some kind of tablet, as they are seemingly the way forward at the moment. A lot of people these days own one and use it a lot as their form of IT – sometimes instead of a laptop or computer.

Fraser Spiers, Head of Computing in a school in Scotland, gave a very interesting statement in Craig Grannell’s blog which also backs up my view of bringing iPads to all schools. He describes the iPad to be “not just a textbook or an instrument, or a set of art tools – it’s all of those things and more”.

Anyway, moving on. The programme this Session looked at in particular was Scratch. Using Scratch as an introduction to computing is a good way to ease children into it. The interface is easy to handle and you can achieve some great results through using it, without much effort at all. Above all, though, Scratch helps the user create a cute little game that anyone can play!

Whilst I was messing around with it, discovering what it can do, I decided to make an Easter Bunny Easter Egg Hunt Game (Yay! Bunnies!). Of course, Easter related because, well, it’s Easter time (ish). The aim of the game was to drag Mr Easter Bunny about a woodland area backdrop and try and get the beautifully coloured Easter Eggs to appear. Cute, huh?

The process of making it wasn’t cute though.

To be quite honest, I found it a bit of a struggle to use the bloomin’ thing. Dragging and dropping commands into the script window, and trying to get the rabbit to move about without giving myself an epileptic fit. The eggs wouldn’t appear, even though I knew where they were! I will probably have to come back to that one and try it again in the future.

I think in order to be able to teach this, I would probably need a little bit more practice and research into how Scratch works. From looking at the examples, I get inspired to create something beautiful! Yet I couldn’t quite make something of good quality this time round. Never mind. In Primary Education, however, we are always learning, so I may just learn so many more things, whilst teaching myself how to use the basics of Scratch.

Similarly, I would need to think about differentiation. This is quite a challenging program so I would definitely need to be on hand, as well as a TA, for all children, and, more importantly, those children who are less able. Early Years, Key Stage 1 less able children and children with EAL also may find it difficult to read commands which you can use for the script of the game, so it would be very important to make sure there is additional support there at all times. I wouldn’t really recommend the program for use with Early Years or KS1 students anyway, as it is far too complicated, but could prove a challenge for those children who are particularly able! I think a template would be needed here to introduce the program to the children, but, as they become more familiar with it, they should get the opportunity to experiment using their own sprites and ideas for games.

I’m going to go away and watch these little lessons now… click here to see them

And so.. the finished product:

Learn more about this project

Admittedly, my finished project is a little disappointing, but never mind. If you have epilepsy, I am very sorry! This game is not for you, I am afraid. Anyway, for those of you who aren’t having fits – that’s all for now! Goodbye.

Jaz~

2 thoughts on “Session 6: The Intro to Computing … & Game Based Learning!”

  1. I agree with you Jaz there are some fantastic uses for game based learning and although GTA isn’t suitable for children you can learn morals and that certain ‘actions’ have consequences. I love you’re game too!

    1. Thanks Pei!
      Yes, definitely – that was exactly what I was going for with GTA. It’s important that children learn about consequences, but I don’t think GTA is quite the right thing to do that for younger children…

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