Wii Are All Active Learners!

For those of you who attended my workshop, Wii Are All Active Learners, at the JISC Regional Support Centre (Yorkshire & Humber) summer conference last week, you’ll remember I promised to write up the details of the five case studies I covered on the day.

The workshop brief was to explore how the Nintendo Wii and Wii Fit Plus are currently being used in education and we looked at how gaming has the potential to engage learners in such a way that adds fun to learning and creates a dynamic environment that challenges the traditional ‘chalk and talk’ approach to learning.

One quote I often liked to use in teacher training, taken from Petty’s website, was “What the learner does is more important than what the teacher does.”  I couldn’t agree more.  I won’t presume to bore you with all of the educational theories on social and active learning, but another good and often used quote from the American psychiatrist Glasser is appropriate here:

“We learn…

  • 10% of what we read
  • 20% of what we hear
  • 30% of what we see
  • 50% of what we se and hear
  • 70% of what we discuss
  • 80% of what we experience
  • 95% of what we teach others.”

Now in a 45 minute workshop there wasn’t time to get the learners teaching each other how to use the Wii in an educational context, but the sadist in me knew that I did have the perfect opportunity to give delegates the Wii experience by putting them through their paces by attempting to ski, do yoga and even run a mini marathon in front of their peers!  Thankfully, we had plenty of willing volunteers (victims?) on the day who were really good sports and were keen to get up and have a go.

Here’s a snapshot of the battle of the sexes team race, kindly lead by e-learning advisors Kathy Boyer and Kevin Campbell-Wright:

And they’re off!

Anyway, back to the five practical examples demonstrating how the Wii is being used to personalise learning, encourage teamwork and support functional skills I mentioned earlier!

1. Creating Fun Interactive Puzzles Using the Wii as an Interactive Whiteboard

An SD memory card can be used to store images (JPEGs) that can then be turned into fun interactive puzzles for learners using the Photo Channel.  Learners can use the multi-coloured pens using the Wii remote to ‘doodle’ on the images (e.g. spot the safety hazards in the salon, identify the artists of famous portraits, etc) or even create jigsaw puzzles using the ‘fun’ option. This helps to develop problem solving skills as well as adding a kinaesthetic aspect to learning that helps learners with mobility problems (Wyke College case study).  In addition to JPEGs you can also view AVI video files through the Wii and if you have an internet connection you can even access the BBC i-player.

2. Promoting Healthy Eating

The Wii Fit has become the first game to be endorsed by the Department of Health and is being used for physiotherapy in UK hospitals and schools to tackle obesity and show people with prosthetic limbs how to balance, with their shift in weight being accurately shown on the screen. You could also use it as an ideal discussion point for addressing topics such as Body Mass Index (BMI), centre of gravity (COG) and posture and could easily incorporate fun Wii activities into a PSHE or similar course. 

3. Competitions For Learners

IT students at Leeds City College, Park Lane Campus, raised money for Children in Need by setting Nintendo Wii Ski Jump competitions for learners.  The Sports Team at Leeds City College have also used the Wii Fit extensively to support Key Skills.

I’ve seen normally placid laid back adults turn into fiercely competitive psychopaths after taking up a challenge that sets them up against their peers.  Great for motivatiing learners.

4.  Supporting Functional Skills

The Wii Fit Plus specifically (as opposed to the older Wii Fit) incorporates more games that test your mental arithmetic as well as bodily exercise, which has been exploited by some colleges to support functional skills.  Bradford College have been using the Wii’s wi-fi connection to access a number of free web-based games that can be used with learners as well to help support functional skills

5. Encouraging Physical Education and Team Work

Joseph Priestly College have used the Wii equipment and games to improve co-ordination, team work and physical activity.  For example, the two player jogging shown above is a great way to encourage a bit of healthy competition amongst learners.

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6 Responses to Wii Are All Active Learners!

  1. John Giles says:


    Love the idea of using the Wii to engage library users. I work in a public library, we’re being given the opportunity to make a bid for some of the budget. I’m going to see if we can get a Wii, tv and some games and put some of your ideas into practice. I’ll let you know how we get on.

    Wish me luck!


  2. Andy Kirk says:

    Very concidentally as I read this post I looked up to see our library manager and several other staff attempting the hula hoop on a Wii! Never mind learning, they are setting up to provide some entertainment for the end of month social club drinks!

    • shibberson says:

      The Wii is a great way to break down barriers between staff and I’ve seen it used successfully for staff development on a number of occasions. I hope you’re not too hard on your library manager during the social club drinks Andy, I think it’s great that your manager’s prepared to get up and have a go!

  3. Andy Kirk says:

    I haven’t established if it belongs to the social club or is loaned out to teachers. We had good fun using it though. I’ll raise your case studies with eLearning colleagues, cheers

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