Game-based learning catches on in Irish schools

7 Mar 2012

Via MissionV students learn how to programme

MissionV is a game-based learning initiative that has been running in 20 primary schools in 14 counties across Ireland since last September. Already, the digital model appears to be catching on with teachers and students.

MissionV is aiming to be the first wide-scale use of game-based learning in Irish schools.

The not-for-profit MissionV, which is supported by Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, received funding from the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) to roll out a 20-school pilot at a time when the Department of Education and Skills was putting a new focus on numeracy.

Discover Science & Engineering and the Centre for Talented Youth in Ireland have also given the project funding for game-based education initiatives.

So what’s MissionV all about? The project provides an online virtual world platform which is accessed over a broadband connection, explained CEO James Corbett.

Conor Galvin from the UCD School of Education and Lifelong Learning is carrying out an evaluation on the programme. He said MissionV offers a coherent model for schools interested in using immersive technology as part of their curriculum.

Corbett described MissionV as a “collaborative 3D environment” where students create their own game-like learning experiences.

MissionV co-founder Margaret Keane said the real value for teachers when using MissionV is they can build their own curriculum-aligned games. “And a virtual world gives them the tools to do that across all subject areas,” she said.

Scratch language, which is popular with the CoderDojo movement, is also compatible with MissionV, said Corbett.

Stephen Devlin, a teacher at Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal in Inchicore, Dublin, is already using the platform to teach geometry.

Devlin said he gets his students to programme animal characters to trace out complex 3D patterns in the virtual world according to what angles they set.

“It gives them a better internal understanding because they can see what’s happening by building tangible artifacts,” said Devlin. “It’s a very deep form of learning; it stays with them.”

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic