I went to another interesting hour at the Book Festival this week called Technology and Literacy, with Bill Boyd (whose contribution he includes here along with his terrific new alphabet for the 21st century reproduced above),  Lili Wilkinson, and Judy Robertson.

Lili, an Australian cyber-journalist, spoke first and introduced us to the site, inside a dog’ (Why? From the Groucho Marx quote, Ouside of a dog a book is man’s best friend; inside a dog it’s too dark to read). This site encourages many readers from around the world to read, share book choices, write (everything from reviews to jokes to competition entries written in an authorial voice, to adaptations of classics which add a zombie!), to engage with Writers in residence and even to ‘Win Stuff’!

Well worth checking out. It certainly seems like a site that should encourage even the most reluctant reader to explore books.

I had listened to Judy Robertson, a computer scientist at Heriot-Watt University, several years ago at the Scottish Learning Festival (SETT as was) talking about her work on story writing with children using digital technologies. She, along with many others, (see the new report from futurelab highlighting how computer games can be used for learning and LTS’ Consolarium  ) believes that utilising games in education enables youngsters to produce work of real depth, to express themselves in new media and to share their work with a wide audience.

I bought Judy’s book,‘Inside Stories: a Narrative Journey’ on which I shall reflect when I have had a chance to look more closely at it. Judy takes the interesting and appropriate route to explain complex ideas – usually outlined in academic papers –  in story form. judy

Judy’s discussion in particular gave me a great deal of food for thought. Using games in the classroom has always been a fantastic way not just to motivate learners and to enable them to develop literacy, problem-solving and enquiry skills but also to support learning at a deeper level. Derek Robertson at LTS argues that computer games,

provide contexts in which metacognitive awareness and development are essential for success. This means that the player must think about their thinking and understand they are a complex individual who can develop an awareness of how they think and learn and in so doing become an equal partner with the ‘more informed teacher’ in terms of the learning relationship.

If we believe that true learning is socially constructed, then we as teachers need to ensure that children are actively involved in the construction of their own meaning, understanding and developing skill set. And we cannot afford to ignore the new generation of games available.

So the answer to the question posed in the title is a resounding ‘Yes’. I didn’t doubt it for a moment.