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Q and A about the use of Nintendo Games in School

(58 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 19-Jan-11 15:05:58

Primary school teacher Dawn Hallybone recently appeared as herself in one of Nintendo's Real People TV adverts, where she was filmed using the handheld DS console in her job. The adverts sparked some debate in the media and online (including mumsnet) about the authenticity of her story.

Dawn has been using DS consoles in her classroom for over three years. She is a firm believer that games consoles can be powerful tools for learning in classrooms and is a big fan of the maths-based games like Brain Training. Dawn is also part of her school borough's games network and has access to a selection of Wii games as well, which are also used in her school.

Following a number of posts on this thread on Mumsnet before Christmas, we've been asked by Nintendo if you'd like to ask Dawn questions about their games-based learning approach directly. Please send in your questions by end of day on Monday 24th January and we'll link to the answers from this thread by the end of the week.

whomovedmychocolate Wed 19-Jan-11 16:35:40

I actually think that the DSi I bought DD for christmas has helped her a lot with her counting and literacy frankly, particularly the Brain trainer. So I'm a bit hmm at all the fuss.

But anyway, one of my questions would be who you make the lessons inclusive for a wide range of children when a lot of the games are geared towards competitiveness?

crazygracieuk Wed 19-Jan-11 17:50:14

I have noticed that my children's behaviour worsen when they play computer games for too long. How long are the ds sessions at your school and how old are the children?

My children would like to ask if you consider teaching at their school?

loler Wed 19-Jan-11 18:18:57

One of my problems with Ds consoles is that when dc use them they don't communicate with each other, work together to solve problems (mine tend to just shout at each other to go away!). Like crazygracie I wouldn't want them to play on them for too long and would like to know how long the sessions are.

My dcs school uses brain training each morning in the top class to 'wake up brains'. The DC have to bring in their own consoles - my DC don't have one and if they did I wouldn't be letting them take such an expensive toy to school. Are Dawn's the schools or the pupils? If they are their own has she experienced any picking on the dc who don't have one?

I could go on - you've opened up a new box of ranting fro me!

loler Wed 19-Jan-11 18:23:04

A previous rant on the subject of consules being brought into schools

Since the rant above - dd's class has been kept in one break to look for a lost ds that someone had brought from home.

23balloons Wed 19-Jan-11 18:58:45

I ban the ds during term time as it makes ds2 completely loopey. Of course we have the Maths games etc but they never choose to play them voluntarily. The Pokemon games are the work of the devil IMO & I often wish I had never bought a ds. I restrict use to max 2hrs/day in the holidays.

I would be totally FURIOUS if dss were used in school.

Hulababy Wed 19-Jan-11 20:11:36

Wrote a long message earlier and it got deleted - grr.

I cannot see what the fuss is all about.

A DS is just another tool that a teacher can use, amongst many others.

In a classroom a child will not be using a DS in an isloated, turned off type of way. It will be totally different from children using a DS to play games at home. And TBh it may well help tose children who do get obsessed, as the novelty factor may well drop off pretty quickwhen using them at school.

I use my iPad with children at school. I work in a Y1 class. The children love it. We use a range of education games and activities, or use it to practise writing and recognising letters and numbers, or for doing phonics games, doing maths sums, etc. We are currently studying Rapunzel and I have an interactive 3D book on my iPad - really engages the children to get really into the stry - as I said, it is just another tool for the teacher (or TA) to use to help engage children.

It is great to see children who often struggle in class to get so excited about getting to use my iPad and the special pen to write their letters.What;s not to like?

A DS is not going to be used every day, all day. It will be used the odd time. Just like children play educational computer games at school, use laptops, using board games, engage with Senseo activities, etc.

On a DS, if you use the chat functioon you can hold mini maths and literacy quizes, comps, you can get them to write coversations and exchange information.

Why the fuss? I seriously don't get it.

Oh, a question...

What is your favourite game or acivity on the DS for using with KS1 children?

Hulababy Wed 19-Jan-11 20:13:29

loler - I wouldn't want children having to bring in their own games consoles. not a chance. I think it only works if they are school owned consoles.

I would imagine that mst activitis involving something like a DS would be a max 10-15 minute exercise at most.

edam Wed 19-Jan-11 20:51:18

Don't have a problem with them as long as they are being used constructively for short periods.

BUT I do have a problem with 'brain training' which is nothing of the sort. Bit of fun in your own time - fine. Giving it the school stamp of authority - not fine. Gives children the impression the maker's claim that this will somehow develop your brain is true. It isn't. Schools should not be endorsing products. Using ds's in school is OK-ish because these are tools most children will have at home. Endorsing the dodgy claims of a commercial outfit that their product is good for you is not on at all.

asdx2 Wed 19-Jan-11 20:56:48

Dd's school has a class set of ds's that are used occasionally in numeracy and literacy lessons. the school also have wii consoles that are used in PE too.I too can't see why it's such a thorny topic tbh if they catch a child's interest and encourage learning then I think it's a positive. Would love to know how ds's are used in your school particularly for yr3 like my dd

oldbeforetime Wed 19-Jan-11 20:58:23

What games does she use both for the ds and wii, as I would consider getting them at home?

<<realises she is nintendo's dream customer>>

We have got wiiparty and there are very good games on there - esp the balance boat one, you have to work together to get a mini challenge complete - my dh and dc normally work against each other on consoles so is great seeing the team work - then there is maths involved due to having to work out how you balance different weights on a pirates ship.

oldbeforetime Wed 19-Jan-11 21:00:21

Another question:

how do you make it inclusive to all?

what about children with fine motor skills do they struggle with the games or do they actually improve?

what about children with poor eyesight - a significant proportion of children cannot see in 3D, something to consider with the new 3D ds coming out, if upgrading in the future, or whether the old 2D will become obsolete?

Feenie Wed 19-Jan-11 21:07:41

"Dd's school has a class set of ds's that are used occasionally in numeracy and literacy lessons"

For about £3000, I would hope they are used more than occasionally - what a huge expense.

OgreTripletsAreSoCute Wed 19-Jan-11 21:41:46

Hulababy which Ipad apps do you use for thes activities? I have DCs in Yrs R and 1 and would like to get more educational value out of the Ipad.

As for the DS's, I have not heard of them being used in schools before, but the same question, which games?

asdx2 Wed 19-Jan-11 21:49:23

Have no idea how often they are used tbh dd occasionally mentions them certainly not weekly though but there are ten classes so I assume they are passed around.
Dd's school is a relatively new school with seemingly lots of resources certainly far more than the schools my older children attended or the local school or the school dd attended for foundation.
Not sure why it's so well funded tbh only it's a new school in an area of high deprivation and there are high expectations that it will make a difference to the local area. We travel there as dd has a statement and it's the best school for dd.

Hulababy Wed 19-Jan-11 21:58:44

I use inotes for a blank writing page, which they use with my iPad pen.

I also use pocket phonics a lot too.

There a few I use for maths such as mash bingo and one called maths pop or something.

The interactive 3d books are good according to the children here.

I have a child with selective mutism and he likes talking Tom cat ad will chat and shout (!) away to that with me

Have others too I am about to try?

OgreTripletsAreSoCute Wed 19-Jan-11 22:17:33

Thank you, I will have a look at some of those.

MoldyWarp Wed 19-Jan-11 23:01:04

I would withdraw my child from a school that did this. No question about it

madwomanintheattic Thu 20-Jan-11 01:12:51

oldbeforetime, dd2 has cerebral palsy which affects her whole body, and poor fine motor control (she's 7yo, can't do buttons/ zips, struggles with cutlery etc), but we bit the bullet and bought her a ds last year. (she's dc3 - the other 2 use them on long journeys). she struggled at first, but is now reasonably adept - afai can see it has had a really positive effect on her fine motor. you can get slightly thicker stylus (stylii? lol) from toys r us etc, which she prefers to use.

using technology in the classroom is becoming increasingly popular as a way to 'tune in' kids who aren't stimulated by more traditional methods (a bit of teaching cop-out imvho) - our school are trying to get the pta to fund some sort of 'who wants to be a millionaire' type set up where multiple choice tests can be set up with each child having a response console. this is supposed to be a way to encourage children who watch too much tv to participate more in classroom discussion without having to out their hands up or answer a question out loud.

i'm worried it's dumbing down tbh. but lots of schools use 'games' such as education city etc. it's not that different.

anyhoo, my question:
who funds your consoles? who replaces them when they get dropped and broken? who funds the games? how much does this cost your school/ was there much discussion re the budget? do you think this outlay represents value for money?

<would rather have bought books emoticon> grin

zazizoma Thu 20-Jan-11 09:16:37

The use of such technology in school seems a gross disrespect to parents who have very mixed views about the use of this technology even in their own homes. How is a parent who is monitoring game technology use in the home supposed to feel about sending their children to school where they are encouraged to play such games? I believe the research on effects of video game playing is all over the board, so why would a school take the most liberal stance on the issue? Pay attention, please.

Personally, I share the dumbing-down concerns with madwoman. I think video game playing in schools is a gimmick, a quick and easy way to engage. I'm not convinced that the drop in attention spans for children is best addressed by using more of a method suspected to contribute to that lack of attention. I don't believe that this method of teaching is any way superior or even comparable to traditional methods.

So no, I would not be interested in better understanding Nintendo's position, as it should be pretty obvious what their interest is.

FreudianSlipIntoMyLaptop Thu 20-Jan-11 10:03:36

Perhaps it's not really a question but I'd like Dawn's opinions on recent studies which have shown that games such as brain training do not improve brainpower - it's just that you get better at the specific games. So while I don't see the harm in playing these games (I actually love these games; my whole family plays them) I am very hmm at the idea of them actually being educational.

treas Thu 20-Jan-11 10:40:57

Some parents have chosen not to allow their children to have / use game consoles so feel that they are being undermined by the schools who use them.

My own children do have a Nintendo DS with a Brain Training game which they rarely choose to play in their alloted computer game times.

I seem to recall that the BBC and Sir Robert Winston did a study which showed that the was no difference between people playing educational games on a DS and those doing the same games with pen and paper.

silverfrog Thu 20-Jan-11 11:08:28

hmm, I think I am firmly on the fence with this one.

on the one hand, I can see the benefits (more with things like wii, iPad apps - but that is psecific to our situation!), and dd1 does use this type of technology at school. but it si more with an emphsis on the learning side, so apps like pocket phonics, letter trace, etc - educational, with some built in rewards rather than a game which might happen to have some educational aspects (subtle but important difference, imo)

dd1 has an ipad she uses for school, as she cannot use a mouse (motor control difficulties). it has been good for her. her school do also use education city.

I agree with madwoman, thoguh - at what point doe shtis become dumbing down? dd1 uses education city because she needs a high level of motivation, and a wide spread of activities to spark her interest. she is also severely ASD, with learning difficulties.

so, shoud all children be treated in this way? as htoguh they must be stimulated ot the nth degree before they do anything? be taught that it is only worth participating if the payoff if high enough?

we have recently started usign a wii with dd1. actually, we are hoping that it might teach her the correspondance between her action and what happens on the screen (the issue she has with mouse control), but it does not replace her OT, however good teh games are at little repetitive motions, or balancing, etc. it is a game, and her OT sessions are work.

erm, a question. hmm. do you think using a ds is better than using an iPad? bearing in mind the range of apps is wider, with a more educational balance able to be sought on the iPad.

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Thu 20-Jan-11 12:23:30

I've been looking to get a good game to help ds (Y5) with his Maths. I'm hoping to encourage him to do 10 minutes a day or so.

What puts me off a little though is that the DSi might lose its magic if I'm actually nagging him to use it and it becomes a chore grin

Am confused at the horrified posters. I seriously doubt any teacher will be using these things for more than a matter of minutes in any one day, and a bit of My Word Coach or whatever is hardly Grand Theft Auto, is it?

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Thu 20-Jan-11 12:25:00

As an aside, my own mental arithmetic is a bit ropey so I'm looking to get something for myself, too. Perhaps ds and I can compete (we do already on other games).

Any recommendations welcome

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