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Computer games in the classroom?

"Yes please," say UK kids.

Three in five 11-16 year old UK students are in favour of using computer games in classrooms, according to a recent Ipsos MORI survey conducted as part of the Teaching with Games project.

Surveying 2300 11-16 year old students in England and Wales, the study revealed that younger children were more receptive to the idea than older students; 66 per cent of 11 year-olds favour the use of computer games as an educational aid in classrooms, compared to 49 per cent of 15-16 year-olds.

Younger children were also more inclined to play games regularly, according to the study, with 46 per cent of 11 year-olds playing games every day, compared to 25 per cent of 15-16 year-olds. Presumably the older kids are too busy haunting the local bus stops and asking strangers to buy them booze and fags from the Co-op.

Almost 90 per cent of those in favour of games in the classroom felt that that it would make lessons more interesting. Students also agreed that playing computer games had a positive effect - inside or outside of the educational environment - with over two thirds suggesting an improvement in computer skills and just under half expressing a belief that games can improve strategic thinking skills such as problem solving.

Mike Rumble, Curriculum Adviser at the Qualifications Curriculum Authority (QCA), commented: "Young people play computer games not because they are easy or mindless, but precisely because they are the opposite of that - they are hard."

Of those who did not feel games should be used in the classroom, 38 per cent stated that they play games outside of school, implying that education and games are two separate activities. Additionally, some of those students in favour of games in the classroom felt that games can have negative effects such as reinforcing stereotypical views of people.

"The outcome of this research will inform further development of learning technologies and the issues that teachers may need to consider when using games software in school," Rumble added.

Forming a part of the one-year Teaching with Games project led by Futurelab and supported by Electronic Arts, Microsoft and Take-Two, the latest findings echo a positive attitude towards games in the classroom found in a previous survey of UK educators.

More information on the survey, and the work of the Teaching with Games project can be found by visiting the Futurelab website.

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Paul Loughrey


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