Radboud University Nijmegen (NETHERLANDS)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN09 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 4100-4107
ISBN: 978-84-612-9801-3
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2009
Location: Barcelona ,Spain
Children spend a lot of time working and playing at the computer, inside and outside school, but there is al large difference between the activities at home and inside school. At school children look for information, surf the Internet and write reports, at home they chat with peers and friends and play games. There seems to be a big “culture gap” between these two worlds.

In recent years, learning is considered to be a process of knowledge construction. This social constructivist view states that learning takes place actively in interaction with other students within a rich learning environment. Games provide such a rich learning environment. Students learn by doing, by developing skills and by collaborating with other students (Van der Meijden, 2005).

However, games are not very common in Dutch education for several reasons: there are very few games that fit within the curriculum, there is not much time to play games at school, and teachers don’t know much about the educational values of games. Furthermore, games have a bad image.

In The Netherlands, the ‘Onderwijsverniewingscoöperatie”, a cooperation of 10 schools for secondary education, collaborating with each other in developing digital material for all of the schools, started a project on implementing games in 2007. About 40 teachers were involved in developing games or gaming elements within their digital lessons. The teachers were supported by a “Game Team”, experts in the field of ICT and gaming in education. Approximately 150 games were implemented in the digital lessons.

Different categories of didactical use could be discerned:
* Games available on the Internet e.g. language games, Students play these games individually to master certain pre-defined learning goals, like the progressive form in English language lessons. The British Council has a special Kids-games-fun page with all kinds of language games.

* Games developed by teachers with tools like Power Point or a normal email programme, but also games with special tools like Brainteaser, Quandary, or Game Maker. Teachers have developed games in order to gain certain goals. A simple, but very nice game was developed for the subject matter history: “the curse of the Pharaoh”. Students have to look for reasons why so many people died after opening the sarcophagus of Tutankhamen. They sent their answers to the teacher and the best answers got a price.

* Games developed by students in collaborating peer groups. Students were divided in groups to make their own game. An example: a memory game was developed by students regarding Dutch proverbs. They had to write proverbs where parts of the body were involved (e.g. “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”), and had to find pictures representing the proverb. ( After finishing their game, the game was judged by other students and commented on.

The project of implementing games in education will finish in May 2009. This projects proves that -with the support of experts- teacher are very capable of developing games for education.