Friday, 30 September 2011

Developing Communication Skills via Games Based Learning

"In socially deprived areas more than 50% of children begin school without the ability to speak in long sentences, which experts say can lead to problems in later life. One hundred schools across England are taking part in a day without pens to tackle this speech deficit... Language impairment is found to be an issue for two-thirds of children with serious behavioural problems, 60% of young offenders, and up to 90% of unemployed young men." - BBC

And from another article from the BBC quoting the communications charity ICAN, "Once upon a time a family would spend a lot of time talking and nowadays of course they have DVDs, the internet, the TV and so this formal communication process in terms of talking and listening has got worse due to lack of opportunity."

To be fair to Jean Gross of ICAN, she is not saying new mediums stop conversations but they can become a distraction in family discourse. Of course the alternative might be true; the family might discuss whether they liked a film and what it meant. This leads me on to point I have previously made in this blog. It is not the technology that is the issue; it is the design and the delivery in the classroom that is limiting games based learning outcomes.

And now for something completely different
As I wrote in a previous blog (The Art of Conversation) games based learning can anchor conversations: In our games-ED products the gameplay is structured around rounds, whole class involvement and phases to encourage conversation. The learners talk in their teams, between teams, at a class level and with the educator. The game anchors these conversations  to flow during the course of the plan > do > review phases. These conversations are at the heart of the learning; they are inclusive and are not formalised / one-way. It is through these questions that learning flows.

Moreover, the game provides a situation (creating a sustainable community)  to practice communication skills in terms of listening, presenting arguments and information, negotiating and providing instruction. The games allow different students to communicate and provides a powerful collaborative learning environment. Pin It


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