Digital technology teacher Shane Pilkie and his Year 7 class have incorporated gaming into the classroom – much to the delight of students and the surprise of some parents.

Pilkie says although at first glance the program may seem like all play and no work, in reality it encompasses many different skills and learning opportunities.

“We started out just by playing some games, which shocks parents occasionally when kids go home and they say ‘we played games with the teacher and he made us play more games and then we had to talk about games,’” Pilkie laughs.

But discussing and playing games is just the initial research process for the classes, with students then developing, designing and coding their own games using Scratch. 

“Using that tool they’ve basically researched a lot of games, like what makes a good game and what are the features of those games they like, then they’re actually going through a project management process of coming up with an idea and basically taking it from a concept through to reality.

“They’re actually having to develop those projects themselves, test them out and go through the process of making them work and debugging the programs until they actually do function in the way they intended.”

As far as the games themselves, the class are encouraged to get creative with their ideas, making everything from simple designs to more complex and detailed styles which boast multiple levels. 

“It’s really limited only by their imagination and their persistence, to actually keeping on going with their coding and programming until they can actually get the results they want. 

“It’s really bringing out some very positive results in that sense, in kids we often haven’t given credit as problem solvers, in showing some really highly developed problem solving skills and persistence because they’re determined that they’re going to conquer this challenge,” Pilkie says.

Another triumph for the teacher is the classes’ engagement and dedication to their work; Pilkie says homework “isn’t a problem” with students doing extra work from home, during recess and lunchtime to see their projects succeed.
Meanwhile students in Year 8 are taking their coding to the next level,  doing online coding tutorials and learning JavaScript and Python, and they can code their games themselves.

“[That’s] taken their knowledge beyond mine already!” Pilkie says, noting that students often seek out additional videos and tutorials in pursuit of furthering their knowledge.

Their teacher meanwhile is more than happy to continue to support and facilitate his students’ passion for all things technology.
“I’m noticing growth as a community of learners ... a lot of kids are coming to school learning languages; Indonesian, Japanese, but there’s quite a few kids that are coming and seeing JavaScript or Python as their alternative language,” Pilkie says. 
“It’s about connecting with the kids’ interests,” he says.