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iPads in the Digital Classrooms

Tom Sullivan writes that;

“Two-year-old Mia traces out a letter on the screen with her forefinger, then claps with joy when the computer chants “wonderful!” and emits a slightly metallic round of applause.

The preschool group at Tanto International School in central Stockholm is just getting used to a new batch of iPads — one for every two children — and it’s a noisy, chatty affair.

“They really enjoy playing this app. It’s really good for learning pronunciation,” said their teacher Helena Bergstrand.

Bergstrand, along with nearly 90 percent of teachers polled by the city council, believes that iPads and tablets help motivate children to learn.

– ‘More interactive’ –

“There’s an instant appeal with an iPad … they love it!” she says, raising her voice over the din as she moves around the table to help the children.

“It’s more interactive (than pen and paper).”

Petra Petersen at Uppsala University has researched the rapidly growing use of tablets in preschools — recording children when they interact with the technology and each other.

“In the schools I’ve looked at, they usually sit together in a group and its very collaborative, there’s a lot of body contact and verbal communication,” she said.

“These tablets are very multi-modal — they have colours, sounds, spoken words, and things that interest the children — that’s part of what makes them so popular. A large part of learning is about having fun, and the children have a lot of fun with them.”

In Sweden, like in many countries, small children often play games on tablets and laptops long before they encounter them at school.

According to the national media council, close to 70 percent of Swedish two- to four-year-olds play video games.

Nearly a half (45 percent) of children aged two have used the Internet — perhaps unsurprising in a country with one of the world’s highest mobile broadband penetrations.

“It’s more or less prioritised in schools now, to bridge the gap between schools and the environment children are living in,” said Peter Karlberg, an IT expert at the National Education Agency, referring to the thousands of tablet computers bought by public and private sector schools in the last few years.

And that has put increasing pressure on teachers to get up to speed — one in every two surveyed have said they need special training.

– ‘Still a taboo’ –

Felix Gyllenstig Serrao, a teacher in the western city of Gothenburg, has taken computer-aided teaching further than most, using the popular Swedish game Minecraft to teach children with behavioural and concentration problems, including Attention Deficit Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome.

“I bring something to the classroom that they like — that they do in their spare time — to make them want to be in school,” he said.

“Minecraft is very good because it’s so open and creative … I usually use it to make a topic more alive.”

Serrao — a games enthusiast himself — teaches 12- to 15-year-olds subjects like mathematics and history, using the game’s building blocks, often called “digital lego”, to make maths problems tangible or to illustrate scenes from history books, building them in the game after the formal part of the lesson has ended.

“It reinforces what they learn — when they return to the game later and see there’s a pyramid there or a town we built they remember the lesson.”

He said Sweden has a long way to go before schools can exploit the full potential of digital classrooms.

“There’s still a taboo around games. When I talk to older teachers about this they usually frown — thinking that video games have nothing to do with learning,” he said.”

To read the full article click here;

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gVyfCvjc0cDbrWrVeOdymBqmwK7A?docId=49c2368b-2691-4a06-abf4-380f80c822b3

Video Games as Tools for Learning and Recovery

video games

Sheldon Armstrong writes that;

“Many parents see video games as time-wasting distractions and encourage their children to stop playing and to focus on their studies. A growing number of teachers and scientists, however, are beginning to see these games as valuable tools in education and therapy. Video games have the ability to teach children not only basic skills, including math, physics and language arts, but broader concepts like collaboration, spatial reasoning, and critical thinking. Innovative therapists also use existing gaming systems to develop new programs to help patients recover from a variety of accidents and illnesses.

Education
Gaming offers children an alternative to the boredom they often feel when faced with traditional methods of education. Computers and tablets are such a ubiquitous part of contemporary life that it makes sense for teachers to use them in educational curriculums.

Video games are adaptable for all levels of learning. Instead of boring rote memorization that can be off putting to kids, video games offer an exciting medium to help students conceptualize theories in subjects such as math, algebra, geometry, and physics. Games can teach problem solving, provide challenges, and encourage risk-taking, all within an educational context. These games can motivate kids in their schooling.

Spatial Reasoning
Spatial reasoning is the ability to visualize and manipulate two- and three-dimensional objects. It is a vital component in the teaching of mathematics, science, engineering, and technology. Studies have linked strong spatial reasoning skills with advanced levels of creativity and innovation. Games that encourage children to solve puzzles, build structures, and craft virtual worlds also teach children spatial reasoning. Developing spatial reasoning skills through video games not only helps kids improve basic math scores, but can also prepare them for future professional work.

Critical Thinking
Critical thinking involves understanding concepts rather than memorizing facts. In video games, players are confronted with complex problems for which they must formulate solutions and take appropriate action. Often, a number of different alternatives are presented to players, forcing them to make quick choices. This process sharpens vital critical thinking skills.

Collaboration
Though gamers are often stereotyped as people sitting alone in front of a screen, in reality, most game play is a collaborative process. Many games have multi-player options in which two players, each with a controller, work together to solve a problem or reach a goal. In a larger context, massively multi-player online role-playing games in which players from all over the Internet join forces in virtual worlds to combat foes and achieve objectives require sophisticated teamwork skills. Video games enable students to interact socially while they simultaneously develop problem-solving skills.”

To read the full article by Sheldon Armstrong click here;

http://thetechscoop.net/2013/11/27/breaking-barriers-video-games-tools-learning-recovery/

Lies about video games

newsnews

Tic-Tac Bananas! by Evanced Games

In her article “Video games will rot your brain: and other lies”, Lindsey Hill challenges 3 main accusations of video games.
Hill writes;

“Video games have the ability to change a person’s brain, but the myth is that it’s for the worse. It has long been suggested that gaming negatively impacts our children. The press consistently focuses on the negative aspects of video games: the correlation with “rotting” the brain, encouraging aggressive behavior, promoting anti-social behavior and the list goes on. Must we always look at the downside of something we are not altogether familiar with?

For countless reasons, parents and teachers are hesitant to use gaming technology in the classroom. As both a parent and veteran teacher of 14 years, I’ve had numerous discussions with colleagues who consider video games as simply “mindless” fun. But, those critics are unaware that the touchscreen taps, mouse clicks and joystick jiggles can help sharpen cognitive skills.

Edu-gaming—a now-popular concept that integrates games with education—disputes the theory that video games will rot children’s brains. A recent and compelling article by writer Nic Fleming discusses how educational games are proven to help people see better, learn more quickly, develop greater mental focus, become more spatially aware, estimate more accurately and multi-task more effectively.

As the current lead for reading engagement innovation at Evanced Games (a company that designs influential educational mobile game apps for kids), I spend time each week playing edu-games with children in their school environments. This gives me firsthand experience with the benefits of video games. When played with a purpose, video games are important tools for helping kids take the skills they learn in school and build upon them further after the school day ends.

Gaming Lie No. 1: Video games will rot your brain.

Playing video games is commonly thought to taint children’s brains. Yet, gaming is far from mindless entertainment. Several studies suggest that video games unlock different cognitive skills and improve brain function in measurable ways. In fact, a fascinating new study conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Charité University Medicine St. Hedwig-Krankenhaus, found that frequent game playing results in a direct increase in the regions of the brain responsible for spatial orientation, memory formation, strategic planning and motor skills.

Gaming Lie No. 2: Video games encourage aggressive behavior.

On the contrary, I have seen video games help redirect aggression and hostility in kids into something much more positive. For example, one of my former third grade students used to act out during reading and math lessons for any reaction from his peers. About mid-year, I began to bring in iPads for continued skills practice in small groups, and, after a couple of days of using these tools, this particular student showed a completely different side of himself. With the introduction of mobile gaming that tied directly to his interests, he discovered something that engaged him more appropriately.”

To read the full article by Lindsey Hill click here; http://www.gamezebo.com/news/2013/11/11/%E2%80%98video-games-will-rot-your-brain%E2%80%99-and-other-lies