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French Universities Get Down to Business with Serious Games

Céline Authemayou, Translated by Nina Fink
Publié le
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French Universities Get Down to Business with Serious Games
Trainings seek to support teachers, expand their knowledge and develop their critical thinking around this new way of teaching. // ©  plainpicture/Dave Wall
Serious games are quickly conquering the world of higher education in France. New trainings have cropped up to help professors integrate these games into their courses. From MOOCs to full-fledged degrees, EducPros takes a closer look at two serious efforts to leverage this new tool in schools.

How can professors use serious games in the classroom? A new University of Montpellier MOOC available on the French digital university platform FUN will provide some answers. 4,000 people have enrolled. Project coordinator Damien Djaouti notes, "For a niche topic, it's a very high turnout. We're feeling the pressure since we are used to giving lectures before groups of 200 students!"

The class will cover the history, pros and cons of serious games and offer advice on finding the right games and how to use them. Djaouti says, "For some, games are a way to apply the course material whereas others use them to introduce new material and build knowledge and skills. It's clear there's no one way to use games."

Game to Teach

University of Valenciennes professor Julien Alvarez agrees. His new in-person degree, Learning Through Games ("Apprendre par le jeu"), is co-sponsored by ESPE Lille and Paris Descartes University.

He reflects, "From elementary schools to universities, we see more and more teachers want to use games or already using them. They have very specific questions. Which game should I use? How can I turn traditional video games into an educational tool? The program seeks to support them, give them food for thought, expand their knowledge and develop their critical thinking around this new way of teaching."

Game Changer

Of the roughly 20 students, not all are teachers. Program educational manager Antoine Taly explains, "We are also targeting trainers, education ministry staff and gaming professionals." Alvarez adds, "The video game industry is increasingly interested in serious games." The program may also be of interest to corporate HR departments. For Alvarez, "Societal changes are underway. Gamification is one possible approach so schools need to keep an open mind."

Djaouti notes, "There are many preconceived notions around teaching with games... That said, attitudes have changed over the last few years." A new generation of professors is following in the footsteps of pioneering teachers like those who launched the Ludus network in 1998. For Djaouti, the trend reflects a society "that seems to be rediscovering the value of games."


Céline Authemayou, Translated by Nina Fink | Publié le

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