Computer games, learning and the curriculum: uneasy bedfellows?

Computer games, learning and the curriculum: uneasy bedfellows? (Part 1)

Participants in this debate on March 9th made it clear how many perspectives there are on this subject that spans school and leisure. All the evidence and the beginnings of a collaborative map are stored, and you can still add to the MindMeister online collaborative concept map.

Many thanks to Leon Cych for assembling all the resources and to Theo for maintaining the Wiki.


Caroline Pelletier, Institute of Education, London, Games and
Learning: what’s the connection?

Caroline opened the MirandaMod by talking about the theories underlying
games playing as a learning opportunity. She was a member of Making
Games: developing game-authoring software for educational and creative
(September 2003-August 2006). The project investigated computer game making for
media literacy, and developed a software prototype to enable 11-14 year olds create their own games. Particular points of focus were the relationship between gender and play, games and contemporary forms of literacy, and participatory approaches to software design. She is course leader for the MA Psychosocial Studies and Education and also leads the module Education and Technology in Clinical Practice: perspectives and issues.

Caroline reminded us that many educationalists have argued that playing computer games can be understood as a form of learning, and that games could be used productively as a teaching resource in mainstream education.
When games are portrayed as educational, certain aspects are emphasised:
their interactivity, which allows players to dictate the pace of learning;
the pleasure they give, which makes learning more motivating; and the control
they give to players, which allows a less didactic, more participatory approach to learning.

In this presentation, Caroline argues that notions of interactivity, pleasure,
motivation and empowerment are however often poorly defined. Advocates
of game-based learning often mean different things by these terms. Caroline
reviews four positions in the literature on game-based learning, outlining
the different ideas they demonstrate about how games are interactive, motivating
and empowering. Each position has implications for thinking about how games
can be treated as educational resources. The last position, which extends
Brecht’s and Boal’s theories of educational theatre, has received
the least attention in the policy and research literature. Caroline argues
that more work could be done in this vein to exploit the potential of games
in education.

Dawn Hallybone:
Games in classrooms: enhancing the curriculum and engaging learners

Dawn who is an award winning classroom teacher at Oakdale Junior School
gave a convincing presentation about the value of games in schools. She
showed that games can be used to both engage and most importantly enhance
the curriculum for children.

Joe Nutt:
Games in schools: a contribution to low achievement

Jo reminded us of the extreme violence in some games by showing us some
of the most unpleasant images screen that are widely available. He said
that “like all strong, contemporary cultural pressures which have
anti-educational potential, teachers need to be aware of the complete landscape
of computer games, if they are to make informed decisions about their use
as part of teaching or learning. The relationship between the US defence
industry and gaming technologies is especially informative here, since
computer games have been used to train soldiers to great effect, but with
serious and lasting psychological consequences. The principles and drivers
of those games are identical to those used by mainstream commercial companies
to attract and engage their teenage users.” After hearing from the
teachers who are using games in classrooms he said that the MirandaMod
debate reminded him that games are a routine tool in any skilled teachers’
toolbox, and that one of the most difficult things to get right about their
use, is not technology but timing.

Visit Joe’s blog: (There’s

His MirandaNet talk is here:

Chris Binns:
ThinkQuest: a collaborative venture

Chris’ Presentation:

Chaired by Terry Freedman

Partnered by Oracle ThinkQuest

MirandaMod, Monday 29th March 2010

Computer games, learning and the curriculum: uneasy bedfellows? (Part 2)

17:30 – 19:30 at The Brewery, London, EC1

Free refreshments

Nearest tube Barbican

Christina Preston

Author of Scoop and NewsNet: MirandaNet Fellowship

A surge in rickets in the 21st century? A look back at designing educational games in the 1980s

Plus Derek Robinson, Dawn Hallybone, Leon Cych and Theo Kuechel

The second March MirandaMod is a free event within the 2010 international Games Based Learning Event called Video Games Social Media and Learning