Teachers tick the Xbox

One in three uses computer games in their lessons. Michael Shaw reports

A third of teachers are using computer games in their lessons even though most still fear games can lead children to behave badly, a survey has found.

The poll was published today as teachers arrived at Olympia in London for the penultimate day of the annual British Educational and Training Technology (Bett) show.

Nesta Futurelab, a research unit in Bristol, and the computer game-maker Electronic Arts commissioned Mori to survey 1,000 primary and secondary teachers in England and Wales.

A third of the teachers said they were already using games in lessons for educational reasons, while a quarter enjoyed playing them at home.

The majority saw computer games as a positive tool for education, with 53 per cent saying they were keen to use them in future classes because they motivatedpupils and kept them interested.

However, most of the teachers still had concerns about the negative impact of games: two-thirds felt they could lead to anti-social behaviour and that they promoted stereotypes in their presentation of women and foreigners.

The study is part of the "Teaching with Games" project in which researchers examine how schools can use commercial games such as The Sims 2, the best-selling game in which players control the lives of characters in a house.

Educational games were among the chief attractions at this week's Bett show, where teachers had the first chance to try out the BBC's long-awaited Pounds 150 million digital curriculum website.

The website BBC jam, due to go online from January 27, includes a range of games which vary from standard educational activities to those which its creators claim have a more "Xbox feel".

The BBC is looking for 500 primaries to pilot one of the most innovative aspects of the site, known as "augmented reality". It allows pupils to stand in front of a web-camera holding patterned cards, which are replaced on screen with 3D animated characters or objects, so it looks as if the children are holding them in their hands. Concerns remain among rival computing companies about the impact the free website will have on their sales. Added to that are reports that schools may be mis-using or neglecting some of the millions of pounds of electronic learning credits the Government has given them to spend on educational software.

Crocodile clips, an educational IT supplier, has complained to the European Commission about the misuse of the credits. It said the Department for Education and Skills has recently promised the commission it would improve its policing of the credits to counter the problems.


* michael.shaw@tes.co.uk

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