Scratch and Kodu
Games and fun have always played a major role in learning. But today there is a wealth of interactive, multimedia opportunities to help children create and build their own learning tools.
As teachers we know that what moves learning forward most powerfully is the opportunity to analyse, evaluate and create. So how can we help our students - of any age - to become creators of educational online games which develop higher-level thinking skills, and introduce programming in an easily accessible format?
Here, I have found tools such as Scratch and Kodu - programs that are free to download - are a fantastic way to get pupils programming from as early as key stage 2. And the tools can be used at more sophisticated levels through KS3 and 4.
By using interactive characters and building their own worlds and stories, children can be encouraged to indulge their curiosity and learn by using something they find fun.
There is a good choice of on-screen characters and the option to add your own. Teachers can leave the lessons largely open-ended for children to explore, or direct them step-by-step on how to create a narrative.
Children as young as seven can easily create the equivalent of a space invaders game, and students who are only slightly older can learn an incredible amount.
Scratch the surface of gaming and learning .
Check out the work undertaken by Dawn Hallybone using Mario Kart, and by Ollie Bray using Guitar Hero. Both show how we can take commercial games and harness their learning potential. And they're fun!