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Child Neuropsychology

A blog by Dr Jonathan Reed

  • One of the problems with Games Based Learning (i.e. educational computer games) is that many educational games look just too educational and are therefore dull and worthy.  Whilst many games are designed with education rather than play in mind, another major problem with GBL for me is that many educational games are desktop based and desktops are essentially boring.  Sitting at a desktop feels like work.  Using a keyboard and mouse is not easy particularly for young children.   Also according to most children I see, ICT is not a fun subject.   The iPad in contrast seems like fun.  The way it feels and the touch interface are intuitively satisfying.  You can pick it up, manipulate it, touch it and it responds- all fundamental aspects of play.   Children seem to particularly realise this -a point well made in this PC world article- Why iPad is children’s toy of the year. Give a child (and me) an iPad or iPhone and they will play with it.  Education works when children are engaged and motivated.  Children develop and learn through play.  An playful approach is in my opinion the best way to learn.   Because the iPad is a device to play with I think it could be the best device to move Games Based Learning on.

    In order to prove my point I have just released one of my games Nutty Numbers on the iPad.  You can buy it in iTunes here.  Nutty Numbers is designed to teach basic numeracy concepts including addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  The game is based on a motivating error free learning paradigm.  This cuts downs on frustration when learning and boosts motivation.  I think that this approach works and I have a research paper in press with International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments showing that it significantly improves levels of numeracy compared to controls. Children who have used it find it easy and fun to play and the iPad interface just feels a natural way to play this game.   I hope that some of you try it out and if so please let me have any feedback.  My goal is to use my knowledge of neuropsychology to produce games that are fun and engaging but are also effective.  I think that the iPad may be the best device to achieve this.   There are still too many children who struggle to learn to read and to attain basic numeracy and are turned off by education.  I think well designed motivating computer based learning games have the potential to change this. The iPad may just be the device to make this happen.