Derek spoke about a number of projects involving school children learning through playing games on mobile devices such as the Nintendo DS and the Sony Playstation Pro. His work in Scottish schools has attracted media attention, "Daily computer game boosts maths" was headlined on BBC news .
The games discussed included Dr Doctor Kawashima’s Brain Training which presents the player with a series of challenging and demanding series of numerical, lexical and cognitive challenges that are designed to ‘exercise and sharpen’ the brain. First thing in the morning for 10 weeks the children in a P.6 class in Dundee played this game for 15-20 minutes. Every Friday they would then carry out their Brain Age check to see how they were performing in the game. The results of this small scale research project have shown some very interesting gains particularly in relation to significant improvements in computational accuracy and speed of calculation. There were however some unexpected and welcome gains in terms of improvements in pupil behaviour and self-esteem as well as the nurturing of a collegiate ethos within the class.
Derek also pointed to particular successes in cross curricular learning in a P.7 class with the slightly less portable Guitar Hero. This is based on similar technology to a dance mat and the player must attempt to play a guitar in order to "perform" in a series of rock venues. The class teacher used the game to underpin project work in science, design and technology, art, drama and extended writing.
Lastly Derek introduced another new project working with East Lothian LA on using a variety of games on the Sony PSP, again with Primary 7 children. Updates on this project are given on the Consolarium's blog.
The presentation was followed by discussion in smaller groups focused on one of the following topics.