As will become increasingly obvious as this blog progresses, I am a games-based learning skeptic. A bit of a funny thing for someone whose day job is teaching computer game development, but there you go.
It’s not that I think games are bad, or that games can’t be educational – but rather that the educational value of games is wildly overstated by some of the GBL evangelists. I think some of the claims made are a little wild and outrageous and, as far as I can see, are lacking in strong supporting evidence. It will take me a while to detail all of these – but first lets go back to the Marc Prensky quote from a few days ago.
Marc recommended to a hall of over a thousand Scottish primary and secondary school (ages 5-17) teachers that they just mention a game – say ‘Civilization 3′ – and gain instant respect and cred, even if they don’t play games at all. Its basically the same as having a teacher pretend to like the current crop of bands. Anyone who ever had a teacher pretend to be trendy knows how that comes across. Even if they happen to pick the right band/game, what realistic chance do they have of kidding the pupils?
Last time I had a room full of secondary school pupils, and was talking about games, I was discussing and playing Burnout 3 and SingStar for my examples (idea blatantly stolen from Hull’s Jon Purdy). They wanted to talk about and play Grand Theft Auto – if it gains ‘cred’ is it right for a teacher to discuss strategies for playing an 18 rated game with significantly younger pupils?