The power of learning through play

Students try out Lego Education at the Microsoft Innovation Centre.

Children should be exposed to more engaging forms of education, including learning through play, something that Microsoft and Lego are working to introduce in Malta together.

Speaking to the Times of Malta, Lego Education’s Paul Cassar described how he came to introduce Lego Education in Malta, teaming up in the process with technology giant Microsoft to blend playing with learning.

“Some years ago I was looking for a Christmas gift for my son and  could not find one that was both educational and fun. Then I came across Lego Education, and after getting in touch with the brand overseas, we brought the toys to Malta,” he said.

Recently, Mr Cassar teamed up with Microsoft to combine the popular game Minecraft with Lego, insisting that students who tried out the Lego game together with the Microsoft software were immediately engaged. Minecraft is a popular video game with children, allowing them to build using different cubes in a three-dimensional world.

After training, teachers will be more willing to change methods

Microsoft manager Mary Downing, who is also part of the Lego Education project, insisted by combining Lego with Minecraft and using IT to bring the two together, children were also picking up coding skills.

This was especially true for girls, who still tended to shy away from such technologies.

The pair, who have been working closely with teachers to equip them with the skills to make use of the toys as part of their educational programmes, insisted that while most educators were often intrigued, some were still hesitant and not entirely convinced about the power of learning through play.

“There are still some who believe that successful teaching can only be achieved through traditional methods. But I do not think it’s entirely their fault, as it seems they receive very strict training that involves little to no exposure to alternative learning methods,” Mr Cassar said.

He also pointed out that some educators would be reluctant at first but after receiving training would be more willing to change.

Apart from working closely with schools, including post-secondary institutions such as the Higher Secondary, Microsoft and Lego Education will also host the first summer school for children based on this concept.

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