Over the past few years, game-based learning has become a buzzword in education. Video games initially served as the basis for this type of learning but have expanded to include other types of games within the classroom as well.
Games have been used as educational tools for centuries. Chess has been used to teach strategic thinking since the Middle Ages, and the Kreigsspiel game of war was invented in 1812 specifically to teach strategy to Prussian officers. The origin of kindergarten in the mid-nineteenth century is Friedrich Froebel’s idea of learning through play.
What is Game-Based Learning?
The goal of game-based learning is to engage students, improve content understanding, and teach new skills through digital games. A key concept behind game-based learning is the teaching of concepts through repetition, failure, and achievement. Through the use of interactive challenges, game-based learning provides students with the opportunity to explore complex topics on multiple levels.
Game-based learning is an experiential and participatory learning approach, research shows that the use of games in the classroom increases student participation, fosters social and emotional learning, and helps motivate students to take risks. In game-based learning, students acquire skills and knowledge through interaction with others, they improve their communication skills. They will also learn teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving skills working together.
Why game-based learning should be implemented in schools
What a person sees, experiences perceives and acts when they are young greatly influences their life decisions. What people learned at a young age will stay with them for a long time. We spend most of our childhood in school. Schools, therefore, play an important role in a person’s intellectual, social, and physical development. Schools have good reason to make good faith efforts to provide students with a positive and healthy learning experience.
How your school can implement more gaming into the classroom
It is important to note that game-based learning includes a wide range of activities beyond traditional video games, this includes interactive simulations, augmented reality games, social media games, and online courses. As students complete their understanding of each level of a given lesson, they can “graduate” to the next level until they have mastered all the skills required to progress through the game or course.
Learning in disguise
According to educators, the fun of playing games is an important part of being successful with kids, and games are a great way to help mask the learning of important but challenging skills that children might otherwise resist.
For example, in Minecraft: Education Edition, where students navigate a maze and visit rooms to learn how to make their writing more descriptive. In Discovering the Ancient Pyramids Adventure, students use Google Maps Trek—which offers a 360-degree view of the ancient
structures—to venture into the Great Pyramid and solve mysteries as they explore. This game reinforces what they learned about ancient Egypt in the classroom.
Educators are also increasingly using apps and interactive game platforms like Kahoot and Quizizz as fun tools for formative assessment, which can ensure that students are on the right learning path, especially during the pandemic.
Test and learn
In many games, players will encounter scenarios where decisions are made on the spot. This allows them to quickly see the implications of their decisions in a low-risk environment and to try and retry it can lead them to think when they get into falter—skills that are valuable as they go through life.
For example, in the virtual game Alba: A Wildlife Adventure, players embark on mini missions to find and protect endangered animals. Students may not think of themselves as adventurers or conservationists when playing games, but a low-risk environment can help them understand the greater impact they can have in the real world.
Bringing students together
Students can play the games alone, but most educational games encourage players to work effectively in teams. It is a building block for building strong relationships and skills such as cooperation that are valuable in school and throughout life.
For example, Google Classroom, Flipgrid, and Nearpod enable students to answer, interact, and discuss ideas. Minecraft gives students the opportunity to interact with each other while learning social skills such as teamwork, negotiation, and respect for others.
Educators are using tools from Google to create their own versions of traditional games like Connect Four and Tic Tac Toe to help students take a break from schoolwork and give their brains a rest.