In January I gave a talk to the PGDE(P) students at Moray House in Edinburgh about the concept of computer games and learning. At the end of the talk one student came up to chat and told me that her boyfriend, who was a PE teacher in Edinburgh, was using computer games with his class. Needless to say I asked her to give him my number so that I could find out more... He duly made contact with me and introduced himself as Chris Lowe, a teacher at Holyrood High School in Edinburgh. An appointment was duly made for me to visit him to see what he was up to. I met with Chris and his colleague Charles McSherry last week and I was very impressed with what they are doing.
They had prepared a presentation that offered a rationale for the use of computer games in relation to the developments within ACfE. This was really interesting and showed how these professional educators had given real thought to their developing practice but above all the quality of what they were doing was delightful.
Chris and Charles
In terms of structures and strategies in Higher PE Chris and Charles are using the functionality within this game to explore team structures within football. The game allows you to consider the perceived strengths and weaknesses of individual players in relation to how they may fit in to a teams structure eg 4-4-2 or 3-5-2 etc. When you play the game you can then look at the movement of the players in your team to decide if your structure is effective. The guys tell me that even learners who have no conception of playing football can look at this interface and tell where there is too much or too little space, where weaknesses may be happening and make informed decisions as a result of this. They have stressed how successful this is in terms of making tactics and structure accessible to people who may not play football.
A similar thing is explored via Pr-Evolution soccer but Chris talks about the motivational aspect here in relation to the personalisation of the players and the teams within this game. Again, structures and strategies can be explored within this interface but the player can have their name on the back of the number nine shirt of whatever team they choose to be. They set my favourite team Dundee United up against Stenhousemuir!!! Utd were up 6-1 when we stopped thre game.
Chris and Charles play the kids within this game but they discuss their respective successes in terms of how they have set out their teams. Goal scored can b e replayed to look at flaws in defence or good play in attack.
I was always sceptical of football games, particularly ones where you control the teams, but I was blown away by the creative and effective way that these guys have implemented this in their class. I think there is real scope for further investigation here in using the very complex and demanding world within these football games to engage learners and enhance their understanding and appreciation of strategies and structures in sport.