Tuesday, 28 May 2013

An Interview with Michael Wilkinson and Steve Holt of I am learning: Success

Meet the Directors of I am learning: Success - a game-based educational app that's now available on the FrogStore. As former students themselves and with  backgrounds in technology and education, it is only natural that both Michael Wilkinson (MA in “ICT in Education”) and Steve Holt (Med in “eLearning”) are one of the leading figures in inculcating a new learning culture. I am learning: Success moves this generation away from the realms of traditional education to give today’s education a new direction through gamification. 

We recently had a quick chat with them to hear how computer games – something we commonly rule as distracting and mind-numbing, can now be used as something engaging and enriching for learners.

Left to right: Steve Holt and Michael Wilkinson, Directors of I Am Learning: Success


Can you tell us a little about your backgrounds and how “I am learning” came about?
Steve: Mike and I worked together at a technology centre for the local authority, looking at how to use technology to improve the quality of teaching and learning across primary and secondary curriculums.

Mike: We regularly discussed the growing culture of gaming as a motivational tool that is able to engage learners at both ends of the academic spectrum across many subjects and ages. From this, the idea of game-based quizzes has led to what is now I am learning.

What are your thoughts about the opportunities and challenges facing education today?
The pressure on students to succeed, starts at a very early age. The curriculum and methods of teaching needs to reflect what students will require to become global citizens, giving them the skills and confidence to survive in a competitive employment market. 

What are your thoughts as regarding FrogAsia and the 1BestariNet programme?
FrogAsia is working flat out to develop a project that the whole world will be looking at. We are delighted to be involved in the 1BestariNet project and to play a small part in shaping an entire generation using the latest technology, and to assess and report on the progress being made by those students. There is a willingness to change and a determination to work hard that would perhaps not be seen in other parts of the world.

I am learning is a game-based revision and assessment system which engages learners, making them want to learn both in and outside of school. Image via thorpeprimary.org.uk
What would you tell Malaysian parents about I Am Learning: Success?
Firstly…I am learning is used in over 1,000 UK schools and is proven to raise results.

The use of games compels students to use the system. The key is that we build on a student's desire to play and compete with comprehensive curriculum in English and Maths-based materials to assess a student’s knowledge and to clearly identify the specific areas that are in need of improvement. How can a student improve if they don't know what they don’t know?

What about the teachers?
Students tend to spend more time on these lessons due to the games that keep them going. From this, we are able to gather far more data than a traditional snap shot “test”, providing a richer picture of the students’ strengths and weaknesses.

And the students themselves?
I am learning is a reward-based system designed to make the duller aspects of education fun. We combine up-to-date curriculum-linked questions with games, competition and rewards to make learning as interesting as possible, and a simple reporting system to show you exactly what you need to improve on.

Where do you see I am learning in 12 to 24 months?
We are seeing more use (of I am Learning) than ever this year. We see more games, especially multiplayer games, and in-depth gaming that remembers how far you gone and builds on that the next time you log in. This takes our existing “mini-games” to a whole new level aimed at the older students particularly. 

We have plans for additional question types and we continue to listen to teachers and senior leaders to evolve our content builder tools. 

What role does gamification play in learning and why should we be embracing it?
Gamification is a way to engage learners of all ages and really probe the users’ understanding and abilities to use that information in a medium that they feel comfortable and even excited with.

People of all ages working collaboratively to solve challenges in a virtual world is something that we all clearly enjoy - in fact, we enjoy it so much that:
  • last year we collectively played some 3 billion hours of games every week.
  • there are more than ½ billion people worldwide playing computer and video games for at least ½ hour per day.

I am learning: Success is now available on the FrogStore at a special rate of RM49 a year for 1BestariNet users.  Visit https://iamlearning.co.uk to know more about this great game-based learning app and get it for your kids today! 

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