DEVELOPMENT OF EDUCATIONAL GAMES FOR SPECIAL NEEDS EDUCATION
Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski" (BULGARIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:The paper presents the role of computer games in training computer skills of children with special educational needs (SEN). For children games are a natural way for learning. Learning new knowledge and skills is very easy and entertainment when playing. They contain a number of challenges, and give children opportunity to explore and discover. Combined with the possibilities of modern technologies these great advantages make games a very powerful educational tool in teaching children. This makes educational games one of the most appropriate tools for presentation of knowledge and training skills for children with SEN.
The study is focused on training computer skills for children with cerebral palsy. In the first year training is based on using standard tools provided by the operating system and several games designed for computer training of children in mainstream school. The use of games were adapted for the purpose of education, although their main purpose was not so.
The results of education are also presented in paper. First year show positive effects of computer training on child development, but the main conclusion is the need of special software applications, consider the specifics of the disease and the individual needs of children. This leads to specification of requirements and criteria for the development of specialized software environment for computer training of children with cerebral palsy. They concern main elements and features of educational software. For example content must be actual, clear, available and free of complex terms, but special requirements are to meet the purpose of training, and to correspond to the age and intellectual ability of students. It is especially important when working with children with SEN, whose level of intellectual development is lower than typical for that age. Also very important are requirements like different levels of complexity, various activities, ease of use and accessibility. This helps to defined educational and training software goals.
Base on the experience from the first year the skills that software will trained also were clear determined. They include:
• mastering work with electronic pointing device (in this case a mouse) – development of fine motor skills and three main movements in working with the mouse: free mouse movement, pressing mouse-button to select the object on the screen and drag an object at constant button pressed;
• work with the keyboard – associated with learning graphic symbols of letters and remember their positions
The paper describes the process of designed and developed of special software environment “Game house” based on these requirements. It includes 11 games separated in different groups depending of trained skills and subject area.
Observation results show that computer games play a very important role in training computer skills for children with cerebral palsy, especially when used specially developed for this purpose software.
Keywords: Children with special needs, special needs education, computer education, educational software, educational games, serious games.