Teaching with Games: Using commercial off-the-shelf computer games in formal education

Mary Ulicsak, Tim Rudd, Keri Facer, Richard Sandford

01 January 2006

Guidance for Educators | St Johns Student Research Group report | Survey results | Presentation

Teaching with Games was a year-long project supported by Electronic Arts, Microsoft and Take-Two, as well as the Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE), investigating the place of mainstream commercial computer games in the classroom. The project aimed to provide practical and informed evidence of the implications and potential of the use of these games in school, and an informed strategy for future educational development requirements, based upon collaborative discussions between industry and the education community.

Much has been written about the potential of games as digital learning tools, and many commentators have drawn attention to those aspects of commercial computer games that theorists suggest might be useful in learning. These discussions tend to concentrate on the use of games outside a formal learning environment - yet there are increasing numbers of educators who are already using these games in their teaching practice. Despite this, little research exists on the practical barriers to using these games, or the positive impact they may have. The Teaching with Games project aimed to extend our understanding of the ways in which commercial games might be implemented in a formal educational setting.

Researchers from Futurelab worked closely with teachers from four schools in the UK to extend their understandings of the titles selected, and to identify learning opportunities within the games. The games were used, in conjunction with supporting materials developed by the teachers, over a term in January 2006, and the findings from this use published in August 2006.

These findings were contextualised by a nationwide study, carried out in association with the polling organisation MORI, investigating teachers' and students' attitudes towards computer games in and out of the classroom.