Derek Robertson, Con Morris and I traveled up to Dingwall Academy a couple of weeks ago to attend the Highland Learning Festival. As normal Con was speaking about the value of on-line CPD (particularly CPD Find) and also sponsoring the water at the event!
Derek and I were asked to run a workshop on the use of computer games to specifically iprove literacy skills with children and young people. We had six 30 minute slots over the two days.
30 minutes is not a long time – particularly when we are both used to running whole day workshops! Also the delegates seem to be so engaged and interested in what we were saying our sessions ended up being six one hour slots!
The format of the workshop was a brief presentation from either Derek or myself and then there was an opportunity for the audience to experience some of the games consoles and software that we had brought along.
During the presentation we discussed the following:
1. The role of the Learning and Teaching Scotland Consolarium and why games based learning and emerging technologies are important to schools.
2. The use of commercially available computer games that have been built for entertainment but can be ‘retro-fitted’ for education.3. Narrative Driven computer games for the Nintendo DS – in particular the work that has been done with Professor Layton and the Curious Village.
Professor Layton was piloted successfully in Clackmannan Primary Primary School last year by Brian McLaren and Morag Clark. If you have not played it it’s a great narrative driven game, with an excellent story and mystery to solve as you look for the Golden Apple (its not a bit of fruit by the way – but I won’t spoil it for you!).
On your way to completing the game you also have to solve 150 puzzles. Many of these puzzles involve numeracy and cognitive problem solving skills. Brian recently presented his project at the Handheld Learning Festival.
If you have not heard of Professor Layton before I have embedded a trailer of the game below (You Tube clip).
3. Immersive Worlds for the Nintendo Wii
Again the focus here was on ‘off the shelf games’ in particular we mentioned the use of games like Endless ocean that can form an enriching contextual hub for learning.
If you have not seen Endless Ocean before have a look at the this Games Trailer below (You Tube Clip):
4. Crazy Talk
Now we know this isn’t really a game – but it is highly engaging for young people. If you have not heard of Crazy Talk before it worth checking out. Basically it allows you to draw or take a picture of a face and then record your voice. With a few clicks of the mouse you can then lip sinc and animate your picture to your voice.
I’ve seen Crazy talk being used in lots of schools and it’s a great resource to support literacy. Children feel more empowered to write more when they know that the character they have drawn will be speaking their text.
Here’s an example of people about to get on the Titanic and to sail to New York (they didn’t make it by the way!).
5. Hotel Dusk Room: Room 215
Hotel Dusk is a Detective Mystery Game for the Nintendo DS. It has a PEGI age rating of 12 years old and one of the main reasons for this is that the narrative that drives the game is quite complicated. Hotel Dusk is actually really an interactive Graphic Novel. In fact to solve the mystery of room 215 you have to read more words than are contained in Harry Potter.
Hotel Dusk was used successfully in Perth High School last year and it was one of the projects that was presented at the Spotlight Scotland Session at this years Handheld Learning Conference.
The S2 class at Perth High School were asked to play the game for homework over the Easter holidays. They then completed activities related to the game when they returned in the summer term. One of the main outputs was that the class wrote their own detective story that was podcasted and published. The podcast was made available through iTunes as well as on the schools own website – which provided a real audience for the students work.
Hotel Dusk Trailer below if you have not seen it:
6. A brief description of some of the games that were available in the time following the presentation.
We brought a number of titles with us including:
- Professor Layton and the Curious Village
- Hotel Dusk: Room 215
- My Word Coach (link)
- Crazy Talk 6
- Wild Earth: African Safari (link)
Overall a fun couple of days (despite my loss at dominoes on the Tuesday evening!)