How to use video games to make learning possible?

Discovering video games in classrooms

We spent more than ten years discovering video games, learning to play, conversing with their designers and distributors, and working in the classrooms with boys, girls, young people, and teachers.

We organize workshops with boys, girls, and teachers to introduce commercial video games at school. They are cultural objects and instruments of learning. We collaborate with Electronic Arts in this task, and the result can still be seen on the project’s WEB site, which is worth keeping on file. The presence in schools, supported by the principles of ethnography and action research, had its core in the organization of these workshops.

The workshops

Participants are a group of boys and girls from primary or secondary education, together with their teacher.  It takes place through two-hour weekly sessions during two or three months. In each session people discusses the proposed the tasks, and took decisions jointly, together with the research team.

These are some of the workshop characteristics:
  • The fact that they became critics of video games was particularly relevant. People use written or audiovisual language to express their opinions through a notebook or a blog, becoming aware of having an audience.
  • The usual notebook was replaced by the blog to undertake tasks relating to the video games within the framework of an innovative teaching methodology.
  • The teacher role of the teacher undoubtedly contributed to the integration of the video games in the classroom always being considered by the children as another educational tool, no different from the ones they normally used.
  • The families actively participate in the projects. They had at least two meetings with the teacher. In the first, she informed them about the project and the activities they were going to undertake. In the second their participatory experience was discussed.
  • The use of video games in this workshop was conditioned by two essential facts, as already mentioned: the children’s ages and the time they were working during the school year.

Our proposal

We define the workshops as innovative settings where new technologies went hand in glove with other more consolidated ones. The workshop created opportunities for girls and boys to acquire new skills related to digital literacy.

There were video games, the Internet, and blogs, and other digital tools, (for example cameras and video cameras) which helped to educate the children in the use of multiple communication codes. The interaction between these technologies enhanced the opportunities each resource was offering.