This morning I was able to attend a session titled, “The Learning Landscape,” where two different panels of various media and educational professionals discussed what is happening in the world of education regarding digital adoption in lesson plans and the possibility of brands and businesses emerging into the classroom.
Overall, each panel member had two minutes to comment on several controversial statements regarding technology and gaming in school classrooms: “There are no real business opportunities in education,” “No one wants to play an educational game,” “Brands and businesses have no place in the classroom,” “There’s no evidence that digital content enhances learning,” and “Teachers are afraid of technology so they won’t use [digital devices] anyway.” Each prompt evoked emotional responses from each panel member and many audience members participated in conversation as well. I could tell many of the audience members were either educational professionals or children’s media creators simply by observing the question-and-answer period after each prompt. I, on the other hand, am an undergraduate student who actively uses technology in my university classrooms. Therefore, I differed from the other attendees in the room simply because I had an interesting perspective on the issues that were addressed. (Let alone, I was probably the only American in the room.)
While most of the topics during the session kept me genuinely interested, the concerning discussion that resonated most with me was on educational gaming in classrooms. Julian Wood, an Assistant Head-teacher at Wybourn Community Primary School, mentioned that educational games played on tablets could be compared to “chocolate-covered broccoli” for students. I thought this was an extremely creative metaphor for the innocent trickery that goes into getting children to play games that will not only provide entertainment but will also teach them a thing or two about the topics they are covering in school. He was very persistent in the fact that any game can have educational value if only it is simple, indisputably useful, and ultimately contains quality content.
Wood’s practical adoption of educational gaming leaves room for serious opportunity and growth for the rest of the professionals tip-toeing around the digital education sector as a whole. Although it will be difficult for digital adoption in classrooms to become the norm, the more teachers and schools work together and take advantage of joint-partnerships with educational gaming companies, the more the students will benefit from interactive education. To conclude this part of the session, Julian Wood further commented on the importance of technology in the classroom by stating, “Technology will not replace teachers, but teachers who use technology will replace those who don’t.” I firmly agree with this statement and hope that conferences such as The Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield continue to inspire educational and media professionals to pursue such advancements in education.
More sessions to follow…