In term 2, 2009 (April-June) selected schools in the Australian state of Victoria are trialling videogames as learning tools. The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development’s Knowledge Bank: Next Generation team are currently leading action research with selected teachers in Victoria to identify potential technologies that may support learning and teaching. This project is supported by The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, The Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development (Multimedia Victoria) and The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

In term 2, 2009, these technologies include gaming consoles such as Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360 are being trialled in approximately twenty schools. Being a DEECD project, there are strict guidelines and record keeping so all research can be validated. This is a major step for the government’s Department of Education and Early Childhood Development in acknowledging the educational potential of gaming and backing up ideas with action research. The DEECD will be formulating department policy in regards to gaming once the research has been completed.

Schools were emailed in March 2009 to indicate their interest in the project and apply to become part of the trial. The DEECD were offering grants of A$4000 per school to cover the costs of replacement teachers, consoles and software.

Fortunately, I was one of the teachers selected to participate in the trial.

Students in the trial are in either year 8 or year 9.

* My gaming research question is:
Is it possible that games such as My Word Coach on Nintendo DS can improve literacy skills?

What is the curriculum focus of your teaching for this action research?

  • (Identify VELS domains and levels or VCE/VCAL/VET subject areas)

• develop an understanding of their strengths and potential
• develop skills of goal setting and time and resource management
• increasingly manage their own learning and growth by monitoring their
learning, and setting and reflecting on their learning goals
• recognise and enact learning principles within and beyond the school
• prepare for lifelong learning.

• understanding that design, creativity and technology leads to innovation

develop new thinking and learning skills that produce creative and
innovative insights
• develop more productive ways of working and solving problems individually
and collaboratively
express themselves in contemporary and socially relevant ways
• communicate locally and globally to solve problems and to share
• understand the implications of
the use of ICT and their social and ethical
responsibilities as users of ICT.

It is also expected that the project will address the National Literacy Standards.

  • Which PoLT principles will you use to support your pedagogical practices? (please list only those relevant to your research question)

1.4 ensures each student experiences success through structured support, the valuing of effort, and recognition of their work.
2.1 encourages and supports students to take responsibility for their learning
2.2 uses strategies that build skills of productive collaboration.
3.1 uses strategies that are flexible and responsive to the values, needs and interests of individual students
3.2 uses a range of strategies that support the different ways of thinking and learning
3.3 builds on students' prior experiences, knowledge and skills
3.4 capitalises on students' experience of a technology rich world.
4.1 plans sequences to promote sustained learning that builds over time and emphasises connections between ideas
4.5 uses strategies to develop investigating and problem solving skills
4.6 uses strategies to foster imagination and creativity.
5.1 designs assessment practices that reflect the full range of learning program objectives
5.2 ensures that students receive frequent constructive feedback that supports further learning
5.3 makes assessment criteria explicit
5.4 uses assessment practices that encourage reflection and self assessment
5.5 uses evidence from assessment to inform planning and teaching.
6.1 supports students to engage with contemporary knowledge and practice
6.3 uses technologies in ways that reflect professional and community practices.

4. How would you expend the grant provided for your action research project?
(This could include: CRT release, purchasing of software/hardware or
buying in expertise)

· Some CRT release
· Approx. 8-10 Nintendo DS consoles
· Approx. 8-10 My Word Coach games

5. How will you evaluate and document your action research?

The students selected to participate that are in the Literacy program will be given the TORC test before the program begins. The group will be given the TORC test again at the end of the program to ascertain results.

Students will also be asked about their engagement and attitudes to literacy now
that gaming is used as a learning tool.

Documentation could take the form of a report or blog posts. Debriefing sessions could be held in Elluminate.

6. How is your investigation of gaming in your classroom innovative?

I don't know if handheld consoles have been used in Literacy instruction here in Australia, but if they have, I suspect not to a large degree. The idea that handheld games can be a useful teaching and learning tool is probably a new one to students, teachers and parents.