Two fundamental approaches are apparent in the research of pedagogy and learning. It is the systemic top-down approach and the humanistic bottom-up approach. Both these approaches have great relevance for developing and improving education. However, from a systemic approach, a myth is spreading that tries to conquer Howard Gardner and his followers’ findings of the fact that people have different learning styles. It takes much more than Paul Howard-Jones, professor of neuroscience and education at Bristol University, and others vague assumptions to kill what 93% of UK teachers and 96% of Netherland teachers (probably similar figures in other countries) from their professional experience find is true.
Obstacles to personalised learning: The case of computer games
In the thesis ”Unpacking Digital Game-Based Learning. The complexities of developing and using educational games”, Björn Berg Marklund, researcher of digital learning games at the university college of Skövde is using a systemic approach to the use of games in education. His conclusion is that the school, in general, does not have the resources and established structures and work-processes that are required to make digital games effective for learning. Some of the reasons for this conclusion is that pupils on very different skill-levels when it comes to playing games. In addition, there has been too much focus on the games in itself and too little on the actual learning environment. However, there are according to Björn Berg Marklund solutions to make games useful in education.
An including systemic approach to using games in education
Besides exploring what is happening between the pupil and the computer. The research also has to focus on organisations, environments and work-processes. Since a successful learning process when using games demands a collaborative environment. Both where teacher and pupil as well as teacher/school and learning designer colloborates. In such a perspective, the game is only a small part in a bigger context where playing the game is important. But the context, teaching and development that surrounds the game are equally important. Since pupils find digital games very engaging and Björn Berg Marklund finds in his research that a big majority of the teachers is positive to use games in education. We will for a second turn the perspective bottom up.
Then the teacher would use her professional skills to select which game to use and how to create the learning environment. Where best practice often is to collaborate with other teachers and learning designers. Such a learning environment should focus on individual learning paths from the pupil’s learning styles. This basically origins from Howard Gardner’s nine types of intelligence. An excellent foundation of an personalised and engaging learning environment. Far from one size fits all approach of the mythologists that denies the existence of different learning styles.
Frames of Mind – the theory of multiple intelligences by Howard Gardner