Brussels, 09 Nov 2004
Computers and video games can motivate children and young people to learn, concludes a report undertaken as part of a Fifth Framework Programme (FP5) project
The Information Society Technologies (IST) project, M-LEARNING, which ended on 1 October, investigated the potential of mobile phones and palm-top computers (PDAs) in the fields of literacy, numeracy and life skills development for young adults not currently participating in education and training, and at risk of social exclusion in Europe.
Based on a review of research literature, the partners in the M-LEARNING project found that games that allure people to win or accomplish an objective can be useful learning tools, particularly for subjects such as numeracy, literacy, foreign languages, sciences and business administration.
According to the project report, games are also useful for teaching scientific or mathematical concepts that may otherwise be hard to picture. Furthermore, computer games used as learning tools can encourage young people who may lack interest or confidence in learning. They also deal with different levels of challenges that allow learners to make progress.
In addition, says the report, computer games give instant feedback in a safe environment, help users learn about the manipulation of objects, and help to develop skills in visualisation, experimentation, creativity, manual dexterity, strategic and tactical decision making.
'Computer games can be a useful learning aid and their full potential has not yet been fully realised. There is evidence of positive benefits ranging from helping people improve their literacy and numeracy, to developing complex skills that combine physical dexterity with advanced problem-solving,' explained Jill Attewell, research manager at LSDA, the UK Learning and Skills Development Agency. The LSDA is one of the partners in the project. 'However, to be effective, educational games need to be carefully designed and deployed to appeal to, and meet the needs of specific learners, taking into account their abilities, preferences, learning objectives and the context in which they are learning,' added Ms Attewell.
The report, warns that to be effective, educational games must be well-designed and pitched at the right level.
'Games that are too easy or too difficult can fail to motivate and games that take a long time to play can cause problems with timetabling. [...]Games that are intrinsically motivating, where the structure of the game itself encourages learning, are preferable to games where real or imaginary rewards are given. A story format that uses fantasy to provoke curiosity, for instance, can be highly engaging,' explains LSDA.
For a copy of the report 'The use of computer games for learning', please contact LSDA: