During the 2008/2009 school year, an entire Secondary Education school decided to introduce commercial videogames in the classroom together with textbooks, photo cameras or traditional blackboards. The centre’s teachers and students, together with a team of specialists in education and technology from the University of Alcaláand the UNED, were the main characters.
We were looking to design innovative educational settings that would contribute to shaping a responsible and critical citizenship in light of the new communicative contexts generated by technology. In addition, we wanted to find out how commercial videogames may foster motivation towards learning and developing a creative way of thinking.
The project Aprendiendo con los Videojuegos (Learning with video games) was implemented in a Public Primary Education School in the Community of Madrid, in particular the school Manuel de Falla in Coslada, during the 2008/2009 school year. A total of 300 students aged between 11 and 16 participated together with their teachers.
Before starting the collection of data, we underwent a previous preparation stage with teachers in which we shared the project’s goals and methodology, we provided basic information on the video games and the elaboration of multimedia products, and we advised on the programming of sessions.Teachers, together with the research team and taking into account the learning goals, decided what video game would be used. Strategy, simulation, adventure, sports and music video games were present.
Some of the contents worked on with the aid of commercial video games were: evolution theories (Spore, in Biology and Philosophy class), narrative and problem resolution (Harry and the Order of the Phoenix, in Language and Literature class), an Education in Values (The Sims 2 Castaway and SimCity Creator, in Philosophy and Education for Citizenship class), collaborative work (Rock Band, in Music class), or the acceptance of rules and standards (NBA Live, in P.E. class).
Video games were introduced into the classroom within the framework of workshops coordinated by the subject’s teacher with the support of the research team.Workshops included the following stages:
Certain commercial video game hide a secret curriculum from which to develop thinking processes, acquire new knowledge and generate attitudes of respect and collaboration.
Participating in an active and reflexive way in digital environments means not just coming into contact with them, but also getting to know the medium in depth and being able to use it in communicative contexts.
When the students solve problems in the classroom through a videogame, or discover the plot of their stories, they acquire abilities to interpret reality. If, in addition, by using different technologies they inform other people about how they played, what strategies they used or what problems they had to resolve, they acquire new skills related to literacy.
Agreement of collaboration between the University of Alcalá and the video game company Electronic Arts (EA), within its Corporate Social Responsibility Plan. Date: June 2009.