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Computer games enroll in school

Can consumer computer games help students learn? A pilot project in the U.K. goes into the classroom to find out.

2 min read
Three U.K. secondary schools are testing the use of computer games in the classroom.

The research project, dubbed Teaching with Games, will explore whether consumer computer games are beneficial to student learning. The program will begin in September.

Annika Small of NESTA Futurelab, the organization behind the scheme, said it had not yet decided which games to use in the classroom.

"That's the $64,000 question," she said. "We are going to look across the range at role-playing games and first-person shoot 'em ups, although I'm not convinced of that. We are going to look at three or four games so as not to spread it too thinly.

"It will be games already on the market," she added. "The main thrust of this is to see if there is a need for pure entertainment games. By involving the teachers we are hoping they will involve the game developers so (games) will have a greater place in the classroom."

A group of European educators, including representatives from Brussels, is monitoring the progress of the scheme.

The U.K. schools are situated near Brighton, with a fourth school in Germany being tested.

In a statement, Futurelab said the study will look at what children can learn from games, how to introduce them in the classroom and what changes might be required to make them relevant in education.

The project, also backed by games publisher Electronic Arts, will investigate attitudes of teachers and students towards computer games. Results of the trial are expected in August 2006.

Dan Ilett reported for Silicon.com.