Thursday, 14 February 2013

Gaming & Education at #GEEK2013 #Margate #Kent

Should video gaming play a part in our kid's education?
For over a decade now I have followed with interest debates about whether or not new technology should play a part in children’s learning. We have seen the influx of millions of pounds of hardware and software into schools, heard the debates as to whether or not handheld devices should be allowed in the classroom, questioned the effectiveness of computer suites versus classroom computers, and much more. Most recently, educationalists like Sue Palmer have written about the negative impact television and video gaming has on children’s well being and development. And neuroscientist Professor Susan Greenfield has suggested that digital technology may be damaging our brains. This last point has since been challenged in a report by Nominet Trust (2012), a charity dedicated to widening internet access. The debate continues.

Addressing concerns about children and new technology
As a mum of two little boys, daughter of a primary school teacher and publisher of print and digital books, I regularly hear concerns raised by parents and teachers about new technology. The question is, how can we address these concerns? One option is to ignore that a digital revolution has taken place and is continuing to evolve, thereby not equipping our children with the key skills and knowledge required for a safe and prosperous future. Another option is to ignore concerns about internet safety and the impact violent games have on children’s social and emotional development. I plan to engage with the facts and allow digital technology to be a part of my life and my children’s lives in a safe and fun way – and one which equips them for the workforce of the future.

Just the other day, I was delighted to be tweeted by a GCSE Geography class from a local school asking whether or not I would like an airport to be built near Whitstable. They had set up an online survey where I could post my opinions and vote for or against the airport. This was a simple and brilliant way of using social media to engage pupils with a topic they were studying. At this point, I imagine most people reading my article feel quite comfortable with the idea of new technology being used by a teacher in the classroom. But what if I were to suggest teachers use gaming in their lessons? What do teachers and parents think about that?

Gaming: The Future
The Horizon report (2011) predicts that augmented reality and game based learning will be more widespread in education over the next few years. Pearson Education’s report (2012) highlighted a call for a reform of the education system – one which reflects the media-rich, ubiquitous world our children inhabit. There is also a move to not only demonstrate the motivational outcomes of using game based learning in education but to demonstrate real learning outcomes. Could it be that our traditional curriculum, and, in particular, our testing regime, push us away from the benefits of digital technology? These are truly interesting times and I look forward to thinking about, challenging and discussing these issues whilst playing at GEEK2013, Margate, UK.

Click GEEK2013 to find out more about this amazing event!

Join the debate:
I will be speaking at the GEEK2013 family event on Sunday 24th February and look forward to you joining in the debate on the use of new technology and gaming to support children’s learning in the home and at school.

If you’re interested in finding out more, check out:

About me, Emily Guille-Marrett
I have commissioned and published print and digital products for some of the biggest global companies and imprints in the publishing industry including Pearson Education, Penguin Children's Books and Oxford University Press. I am a graduate of the University of Kent and have recently moved to East Kent to set up a publishing company.

Please note:
This article was written to accompany the GEEK2013 magazine. Look out for it in local KM newspapers and at the event.