Teachers told to take the console and play the game

3rd October 2003 at 01:00
Neil Munro and John Cairney report from the Scottish Education and Teaching with Technology show in Glasgow

Schools could fail a generation if they don't create a learning environment that is "at least as enjoyable" as the personal lives of their students, the SETT conference was warned.

Marian Brooks, headteacher of Cranford Community College in London and executive director of Cambridge Education Associates, said much of the fun and learning youngsters experience from computer games is taking place outside formal education.

"Young people are intelligent consumers with enormous autonomy in their own choices and have to see that ICT has the capacity to change what they do because it gives them access to learning that orthodox methods do not," Ms Brooks said.

She called for an end to "one-stop learning" and added: "We must make it possible for young people to revisit their learning experience by using digital videos, exemplars and recordings of high-quality lessons so that they can catch up, replace lessons they have missed or when the lesson was presented in a style that they find difficult to access."

David Thornburg of the Thornburg Centre in Chicago, described as a consultant "futurist", also highlighted the "disconnect" between the classroom and the lives that young people lead.

"Our students are natives of the digital age and we are digital immigrants", Mr Thornburg said. Students who create high-impact multimedia projects not only do better in exams but remember the content longer.

"The way to get students involved in these projects is to have the teaching focused more on supporting student learning around the project that the students do totally by themselves," he said. "It is easier to have the students do the heavy lifting and for the teacher to be the facilitator and not the content provider.

"This makes it easier for resources to be available and for the students to share resources. If our goal is to prepare students for life, then it is essential that we create learning environments that support the natural modes through which students make meaning out of information."

Mr Thornburg underlined the importance of teachers being aware of how young people learn. "I have to be in a zone of discomfort to be able to make an environment that is comfortable for my students," he said.

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