With the advent of the new national curriculum and its new emphasis on computing there has never been so much focus on technology in the classroom. In particular there has been a huge surge in tools to teach coding. These include a variety of visual programming products, of which Scratch from MIT is the granddaddy. A number of other providers have developed tools that are more focussed on learning the broader curriculum and these generally use game mechanics of some form to accomplish this.
The first thing that I think is really interesting about many of the computer based teaching and learning tools out there is that they consistently improve pupil progress. A number of studies have been carried out with varying degrees of rigour but the impact is seen across age, gender, pupil-premium status and for all subjects and ages. A lot of this can be ascribed to the various facets of the products, and certainly there are differences between the various tools, but to some extent just playing a digital game has an impact on a learnerâ€™s engagement, attention and ultimately the amount of learning achieved. Across all sorts of games, digital or not, there are a number of features that stand out. These game mechanics can be harnessed in the classroom either using these kinds of digital products or in the way regular lesson activities are planned.
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