Let’s Play! Um . . . I Mean . . . Learn!

Watch anyone interacting with a Nintendo DS and you will witness active and focused learning. This portable gaming device is finally finding its way into the schools, where its interface, software, and collaborative tools are being seamlessly used to support learning. In several Scottish primary schools, students are “told to play” Nintendo DS brain games before school, resulting in improved performance in maths tests by as much as 10 per cent (http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article3552834.ece).

Conversational Language Learning

Even in Japanese schools, where education methods are more rigidly defined, the Nintendo DS is now being used to augment and engage language learning. Students interact with a conversational English language program, learning how to order hamburgers and colas at a fast-food restaurant and having fun in the process (http://www.usatoday.com/tech/gaming/2008-06-27-nintendo-ds-english-japan_N.htm).

Given the fact that Nintendo DS is portable, engaging, powerful, and now available in 3D, it shouldn’t be surprising it is showing up in classrooms throughout the world. In fact, the Nintendo DS is already being used to support learning in galleries, museums and aquariums in Japan.

McDonald’s Japan?

As anyone will discover after using the device, many of the game titles and built-in tools are perfectly suited for many types of instruction. Heck, even McDonald’s Japan is developing a Nintendo DS training program for part-time employees. Because most people in Japan are very familiar with the DS, it is hoped this program will cut training time in half and save McDonald’s Japan money. Here’s an unconfirmed picture of what the training program looks like on the DS:

Macdonald's ds training tool


Art Academy

Teachers in the U.S. are now using the DS to augment art lessons in the elementary, middle, and high school classrooms. In partnership with the National Art Education Association (NAEA), Nintendo has provided classrooms with the DSi XL systems and copies of the software Art Academy to enhance teaching art in schools. A recent study conducted by Wakefield Research for Nintendo found that 60 percent of surveyed parents agreed that there is not enough focus on art activities in their children’s schools.

Art Academy can be a student’s personal art teacher, providing an easy and portable way to learn how to draw, shade, and paint. Students can benefit from taking their art with them and working on it anytime, anywhere.

“The abundance of visual images being displayed through technology is transforming the ways art education in schools can be presented to students,” said Deborah B. Reeve, EdD, NAEA Executive Director. “In today’s schools, an emphasis is still placed on rational and analytic subjects like math and science. Art class is one of the few places where kids can exercise their creativity and develop flexible forms of thinking to build additional skills for their future. We are thrilled that the incorporation of Nintendo’s Art Academy into the classroom provides students with another creative outlet that supports teaching and learning in art, and the students agree.”

Are You Using the DS in Your Classroom?

Children and young adults are already using these devices, so why not also in school? I would like to find out more about how the Nintendo DS is being used in your classroom. How did you obtain the devices? Did students have to pay for them or was the cost subsidized? How do you use them in the classroom? Have you designed any studies to measure effectiveness? Please post any comments below and thanks for reading.

More Information on the Nintendo DS in the Classroom

For ideas on how to incorporate the Nintendo DS in the classroom, read one of my previous posts: http://itcboisestate.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/nintendods_classroom/ Since the unveiling of the Nintendo 3DS, there have been some changes to the device, such as the discontinuation of PictoChat, but most of the ideas are still applicable. (I will be writing a subsequent post on the 3DS and ways it can be used in the classroom, as an update.)


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