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Child Neuropsychology A blog by Dr Jonathan Reed
  • Play and the iPad: a new direction for Games Based Learning?

    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.

    Published on October 1, 2010 · Filed under: Uncategorized;
    8 Comments

8 Responses to “Play and the iPad: a new direction for Games Based Learning?”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by kdwashburn, jonathan reed. jonathan reed said: New Blog post Play and the iPad: a new direction for Games Based Learning? http://bit.ly/b0Is1q [...]

  2. I haven’t much to say on this time but you do great job and appreciate your blog.

  3. I agree whole heartedly and am finding that this is indeed the case. Seeing disengaged learners, who believe they “can’t” , grasp the iPad and write, count and read by playing with it. Think it is going to be revolutionary in our classrooms for individual motivation and engagement. It sits in the crook of their arm, on the floor, outside- anywhere! Kids adore playing with it! Plus they are brimming with ideas about ‘ how’ they can design their own learning experiences and activities given the multi functionality- 7 yr old niece naturally mixing and matching iPhoto, sounds and text to make games for her little brother! She had been a happy, bubbling child till she went to school and found that “learning is really hard”. It is definitely all about the ‘ how ‘ for her : )

  4. What a great idea – I am a governor at a special school and we recently invested in some iTouches specifically for teaching numeracy via games. I wish you every success!

  5. I like your thinking here and I agree with you. GBL often does look like schooling. That means that we see a lot of behaviorism, i.e., do work get rewarded and question and answer items. Making games that are good at the beginning, good in the middle, and good at the end is the challenge. It looks like you are stepping up. Jesse Schell’s “The Art of Game Design” is a book you may like if you have not read it. Thanks for all the great work, Dr. Reed.

  6. Thanks very much for the comment Martin.

  7. [...] Play and the iPad: a new direction for Games Based Learning? [...]

  8. [...] Play and the iPad: a new direction for Games Based Learning? [...]

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