My current attempt to integrate Xbox racing games into science is generating interest amongst a fair few teachers. My class loves it. As one student said today “All classes should have an Xbox”.
So why aren’t more classes using the Xbox?
A few weeks ago I ran a professional learning session for science teachers on how they can integrate Xbox games into teaching Newton’s laws of motion. I suggested an array of activities to cater for students of a range of abilities. Yet the Xbox booking sheet only holds my initials as no other teacher has requested it for their classes. As the faculty’s head teacher and the school’s technology coordinator, I want to reflect on how to encourage teachers to implement what they learn in professional learning sessions, particularly with technology.
There are many reasons why teachers may not implement what they learn in professional development courses. However, I want to focus on the need to ‘muck around’. With technology in particular, it’s essential to muck around and spend time to explore the software before deciding how to use it to enhance learning. In a reading I had to do for uni Richardson (2009) highlighted that teachers need to make a personal connection with the technology before being able to consider the pedagogical implications of the technology for their classroom practice. IMHO, to make this personal connection, you need to muck around.
With the Xbox, I spent a lot of time mucking around (playing three different racing games to decide on the best game for my class, which game mode to use, which race track, difficulty level and how much freedom students had in choosing players and racing tracks to ensure time efficiency). Then there was mucking around with hardware. Which data projector was best? What cables did I need? Overall it involved two weekends of playing Xbox at home, several visits to video game shops and several hours of playing the Xbox at school. And I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it! 🙂
In contrast, the other teachers didn’t have this opportunity. All they had was a half hour session of me showing them how to set up the Xbox, how to play Formula 1 2010 and the various activities they can implement for their classes. They didn’t have the chance to discover for themselves how the Xbox worked and the potential it can have on their students’ learning. They didn’t have the chance to muck around for hours playing different types of games and reflecting how the games can be used in their teaching.
The hard part now is how do I create these opportunities where teachers can muck around, self explore and reflect? How do I create opportunities for teachers to want to muck around?
Note: The school’s teachers have been fantastic at adopting other technologies such as IWBs and 1:1 laptop initiatives. Perhaps the Xbox takes relatively longer to get used to.