Saturday, 15 March 2008

Brain Training

After trying Brain Training on the Nintendo DS on the way to France on our recent residential, I am not at all surprised by this report in the Times. I am only surprised that it hasn't happened sooner.

Primary pupils are being encouraged to play on Nintendo DS consoles in class to boost their cognitive skills. Under a scheme being tested on 900 pupils in 16 primary schools in Scotland, children are being given the hand-held computer games devices for free and encouraged to start their day by doing “brain training” exercises. Trials of the game, Nintendo’s More Brain Training from Dr Kawashima, found that an early morning 20-minute daily session, involving reading, problem solving and memory puzzles, could boost maths attainment as well as improving concentration and behaviour levels.

Derek Robertson, of Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS), the body responsible for the development of the curriculum, said that children in the trial were given a maths test at the beginning and the end of the ten-week experiment. Their scores showed a 10 per cent average improvement. “Game-based learning can provide dynamic and culturally relevant contexts that engage, motivate and challenge today’s young learner,” he said.

Nintendo DS consoles are already used in Japan as an aid to teaching children the “alphabet” of more than 2,000 Kanji characters. Primary school children are each given a device and provided with software that tests their ability to remember the characters and write them correctly on the lower screen. Schools that have started using the consoles – devoting about 20 minutes at the beginning of each “koku-go” (Japanese) lesson to the tests – report substantially higher test scores when the children take mainstream exams. A few mathematics teachers in Japan’s high-intensity cram schools have adopted the Nintendo DS as a way of testing mental arithmetic speed.

The Japanese games software industry has responded quickly to the growing demand, churning out dozens of titles that could practically be used by teachers, though the Ministry of Education has been slow to endorse national adoption of the idea.

In Scotland, LTS said it was providing 480 Nintendo DS consoles for the project, with 30 going to each school. They will remain in the schools during the trial. Once the scheme is over, LTS will use the consoles for other educational projects over the next few years.

1 comment:

LindaH said...

I saw Derek talk at TeachMeet08, he was inspirational!There's much more to what they are up to than just Brain Training games. Have a look at the Consolarium blog