May 27, 2024


Science It Works

How video games in the classroom are helping to jump the digital skills gap

UKIE’s Saeed emphasises the link between games and broader digital skills education, from the clear path to computer programming to perhaps less obvious connections.

“Most children play video games and they engage students equally from all backgrounds,” she says. “Enter a lesson and ask ‘who wants to play a game’ and every single hand in the room will shoot up. Utilising video games within the classroom to help teach these skills should be a no brainer.

“Everything from the game itself -to a game trailer or literature surrounding them or getting students to create games themselves – can teach you everything from maths and physics, to programming, to art and musical composition or even business and marketing skills.”

Whatever the pathway, it appears that involvement in UK education has become an increased focus for games companies. Nintendo recently became the headline sponsor for UKIE’s ‘Digital Schoolhouse’ workshops, which uses play-based learning to teach computing and has been picked up by 50 schools around the country. Nintendo’s curious cardboard toy game, Labo, has also been used in lessons by some schools to help teach basic engineering. Even the Mario creator’s upcoming software, Game Builder Garage, has its roots in teaching simple programming.

French publishing house Ubisoft, another Digital Schoolhouse backer, has also hosted digital panel Keys to Learn, which discussed the use of video games as a learning tool. The company has also made moves to support digital skills education for marginalised groups, including offering scholarships in Computer Science for black students at Newcastle University. And partnering with Girls Who Code, a non-profit organisation looking to narrow the gender gap in the technology industry.

Of course it would be natural to question the motives of companies either hungry for good PR or ensuring children remain loyal to their games. But the widening skills gap is a real issue and, according to UKIE’s CEO Jo Twist, companies have needed to take a lead due to the lack of action from the Department of Education.