Monday, 13 June 2011

Proof of the Pudding Part 2

Building on a previous blog post (proof of the pudding), this post looks at the practical use of games based learning in the classroom. I didn't deliver the lessons, instead it was delivered by teachers at Kings's School Winchester.

What was particularly interesting for me, is that it wasn't delivered as a facilitated game - this is the way I normally deliver our Sustainaville product. Kings' School still used it as a collaborative game, but the students inputted their own decisions into the game and the teachers supported the game sessions more lightly. The students quickly picked up the game rules (due in part to worksheets produced by Kings' School Teachers) and made group decisions in what is a reasonably complex simulation game.

Report on Sustainaville by Jane Berridge, Enterprise Co-ordinator, Kings' School Winchester
For our year 9 Enterprise Day, we took the 330 students in the year group off time table and set them a business challenge based around a theme.  The theme was sustainability and the students were asked to investigate how they could improve their community in a sustainable way.

We wanted to provide the students with information and learning that related to a sustainable community project whilst being motivational and fun.  So, we chose to start the day with Sustainaville.

Sustainaville Dynamic Main Screen
The whole year group was split into teams of three.  Each team worked at a computer and took on the role of town planners.  Their brief was to look at different sectors of Sustainaville and decide where they needed to invest to improve the town and make it a better place to live.

To make the activity even more challenging, there were tutor group competitions with spot prizes and a prize was awarded to the team with the highest score in the year group.

The game was very successful and the feedback from students and adults was excellent.  The students said ‘we really enjoyed the game, especially when we won the tutor group challenge. We have learned what sustainability is and how to help the environment. Also, we learned how to work with others and to be confident when making business decisions.’  

The teachers said they thought it was a very useful and the students gained a lot from it.

Background on Sustainaville by Paul Ladley (games-ED)
Sustainaville is a games based learning product produced games-ED. The key to success of Sustainaville is that it incorporates the 6 Key Principles of Collaborative Games Based Learning. In particular: it supports group game play; it uses technology appropriately (in Kings's case 1 computer per group not 330 computers) and it supports multiple conversations. The last principle is expanded in an earlier blog post - The Art of Conversation.

Feedback provided via report screens
In terms of Enterprise Education, Sustainaville helps learners to understand the importance of businesses in providing employment and prosperity. Learners understand how investment and specific sector skills underpin sustainable growth plus how generic skills and business improvements impact on competitiveness. They also discover that businesses do not operate in a vacuum and that social and environmental factors can both impact on the success of businesses and can be made worse by business activities.

The game allows the learners to practice skills that they and businesses need. They develop strategies, plan actions and manage budgets. They make choices and work within constraints. They use decision-making skills, practice problem-solving skills and work in teams.

Teaching Methods Deployed:
• Debates
• Discussions (experience transfer)
• Educational games
• Role-playing
• Simulations
• Pupil/student-led activities or exercises.

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