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New handbook encourages videogame use in UK schools

British educational organisation Nesta Futurelab has released a new handbook for educators and games industry figures, encouraging the use of videogames as an innovative learning tool for UK schools.

British educational organisation Nesta Futurelab has released a new handbook for educators and games industry figures, encouraging the use of videogames as an innovative learning tool for UK schools.

Tackling all sides of the argument which, particularly of late, plagues the videogames industry - that of the potential negative psychological and behavioural effects on children, the handbook suggests that there is also a wealth of educational and social development benefits associated with the use of videogames, both inside and outside schools.

Through a pooling and analysis of a wide range of independent studies, educational, commercial and political arguments, the handbook aims to educate and inspire the British schooling system with a number of interactive solutions, merging the hobbyist attitude to videogames with ideas for a learning environment that could provide genuine educational, social and psychological development rewards.

Nesta Futurelab's learning researcher and co-author of the handbook, Richard Sandford, stated: "We hope that this handbook will be read by teachers and game developers who are interested in games-based learning activities. Although the use of computer games for learning is still seen as controversial by some, this handbook sets out all sides of the argument and serves as a useful guide to this emerging and complex issue."

Detailing the concepts of problem solving, cause and effect, logical and lateral thinking and solution finding exercises, the handbook makes the assertion that traditional learning environments in schools could be drastically enhanced by the increased use of interactive videogames. Real-time historical games, life simulations and traditional educational software are all covered to some degree in the booklet, together with anecdotal evidence of its success from various pilot schemes and independent trials.

In addition to the traditional educational benefits suggested in the handbook, there is a section dedicated to the role of young people as games designers, promoting the motivational benefits, as well as the critical and analytical thought processes and ability to express imagination, thoughts and ideas.

Nesta Futurelab is a division of Nesta, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts. The organisation has orchestrated a number of pioneering programmes to improve the culture of creativity and innovation in the UK. Futurelab focuses its conferences, websites and publications on offering insight and innovation in education, through the use of emerging technologies and interactive media tools.

More information on the organisation and the availability of the Games and Learning handbook can be found at the official website, www.nestafuturelab.org.

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Paul Loughrey

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