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Sony unveils new education initiative

Sony Computer Entertainment unveiled its new PSP in Education initiative at a special launch event in London yesterday.

Sony Computer Entertainment unveiled its new PSP in Education initiative at a special launch event in London yesterday.

SCE UK boss Ray Maguire was on hand to explain the thinking behind the new feature, telling the audience, "Up until now, it's not been right for us to be in this space - the technology and the delivery medium were not there. Today, I believe that we are.

"[The PSP] takes all the open formats that we need to provide for an Internet-based delivery medium - so in other words, if you want pictures, if you want videos, if you want wireless access to the Internet, this will give it."

The PSP in Education presentation highlighted how the handheld could be used in the classroom to download RSS and listen to audio files, such as poems, plays and foreign language recordings.

The PSP's photo mode can be used to view and analyse images, while video mode can be used to watch footage of, for example, a chemical reaction.

"I see a situation where class notes or homework assignments can transfer to a PSP... So that when kids go home, they can access the information rather than having to go on the Internet and having to search through many websites," Maguire said.

Next up on stage was Doug Brown, head of the technologies and future unit at the DfES. "What is becoming quite clear is that games in education has a significant part to play," he stated.

"A range of activities that are now happening in schools are making good use of games to teach very difficult conceptual topics, and to take children to places where otherwise perhaps a teacher might not be able to take them."

Although Brown was careful to point out that games cannot replace traditional teaching, he observed that, "The world of the technology in schools has changed... We are in a position where the infrastructure in school is vastly more further forward, and the connectivity that's associated with that is as well."

Also on show at the event was Buzz! The Schools Quiz from developer Relentless. Executive producer Jeff Gowan explained how the title includes questions based around the Key Stage 2 elements of the National Curriculum, and "teacher features" which allow teachers to control the pace and length of games.

ConnectED Services is the distributor responsible for bringing PSP and Buzz! to schools, and according to managing director Chris Parr, "People are engaged with this technology. Everybody we talk to wants to make it work... As a consequence of that, we're moving through the early stages of piloting PSP technology.

"We've been working over the last three or four months with a number of schools to really dive as deep as we could in terms of proving the educational value of the device... The next phase that we go through is where we start to work more closely with developers, where we start to embellish the platform."

A full interview with Ray Maguire about the PSP in Education initiative will be published on GamesIndustry.biz next week.