Tuesday, January 11, 2011

LWF11 - David Braben, Founder, Frontier Developments

Games and Learning

{The speaker developed Elite! I loved Elite! I spent hours playing Elite. - Sorry, completely distracted by a trip down memotry lane. - DM}

What motivates children? Does X-Factor/Lottery age foster a desire for instant reward? Do they shun things (such as learning) that require effort and hard work?

Games motivate children. They give a feeling of progress, they don't criticise failure but reward success and have small, easy steps. Children are willing to put in hours of "slog" to suceed in games. Gave example of a very successful game - Roller Coaster Tycoon - a very creative game where the only real reward is the opportunity to share their creations online. Even criticised games such as Halo show evidence of self-directed learning.

It is possible to program games and various tools exist but there is a learning gap that needs a teacher to help children bridge the gap. It does take a fair degree of effort to move from game playing to game development. Savid talked about his early experiences on home micros as a teenager - the computer came with a programming manual and programming them was (relatively) easy. How do we help the current generation of gamers get into programming?

Daviod has come up with a small, cheap machine, the Raspberry Pi, to provide an open source way in for pupils to get into programming. Because it is cheap and robust, it is easy to give one to every pupil. The speaker says every child he talks to says the ICT curriculum is dull. Graph from CHPC Response to Digital Britain shows that the number of ICT Professionals have continued to rise but the number applying for Computing at university has fallen. We need to find innovative way to engage children with Computing.The speaker does not want ICT to be a core subject but wants Computing to be in schools as an alternative.

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