Game-Based Learning Talk

A quest to transform education through game-based learning

What Exactly is Game-based Learning?

with 6 comments

Game-based learning
Game-based learning (GBL) is a seemingly simple concept – learning through the use of games.

But wait, let’s look a little closer. Most people see the term “game-based learning” and think of students playing some sort of educational computer game. But, there’s more to GBL than just that.

Let’s take a look at GBL in terms of the game and pedagogical considerations:

GAME CONSIDERATIONS

  • Games can be digital (e.g., videogame or computer game) or non-digital (e.g., board game)
  • Games can be of different types or genres (e.g., role-playing games or simulations)
  • Games can be played on different platforms (e.g., videogame consoles, computers, mobile devices, paper and pencil)
  • Games can take place in different environments (e.g., classrooms or workspaces, computer-based 3D worlds,  transmedia)
  • Games can be designed to be played by individuals or multiple players

PEDAGOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS

  • Consider how content and/or skills can be better learned via GBL vs. traditional methods
  • Consider using game mechanics in the learning system, such as using levels instead of grades (i.e., gamification of the learning process)
  • Consider having students create their own games in order to learn content and/or skills

In Jane McGonigal’s book Reality Is Broken (which I highly recommend reading), she defines a game as an activity that has goals, rules, a feedback system, and voluntary participation.

In addition to the considerations above, we need to look at these characteristics of games to question how they can affect potential learning outcomes:

  • Goals – how does the game match its goals for the players with the learning objectives?
  • Rules – how do the rules affect the assessment and learning outcomes?
  • Feedback System – is there good formative assessment feedback built-in to the game that will help both learner and teacher?
  • Voluntary Participation – if students are forced to play a game, it may become less of a game and more like work, so is the game engaging enough to motivate students to play the game voluntarily?

Some definitions of a game also include “conflict” as another characteristic, so another question educators need to ask is:

  • Conflict – does the level of conflict in the game promote or detract from the learning?

Games will undoubtedly evolve in the future and therefore GBL will also need to evolve.  Today, we are seeing new types of gaming, such as alternate reality games and social/mobile games, and we are also seeing new, innovative ways to use GBL.

Who knows what the future will hold with new games and GBL?  It’s an exciting time for all of us interested GBL and its current and future role in education, don’t you think?

Written by randyfuj

May 5, 2011 at 12:13 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Yes, I agree that using games to teach makes the teaching learning process stress free. In my school We make use of board games to develop vocabulary in English and the students use the board game whenever they are free apart from the the scheduled play time.

    Gayatri

    May 5, 2011 at 9:48 pm

  2. Great Idea. I have been developing different sorts of games in my computer science and programming classes to try to keep my students engaged. I really like the different levels concept. It should appeal to them at their “level”. Thanks for a great article

    Theresa

    May 6, 2011 at 6:04 am

  3. I recently spoke at a TurningPoint ARS conference about using multimedia with TurningPoint to enhance the development of serious games. We use various spins on board games or reality type shows for training some otherwise dry and technical material. TurningPoint ARS is a wonderful media for developing simple but effective iteractive games. We have been testing the use of serious games for almost 2 years and trainees have found it motivating and effective for learning business knowledge, concepts and procedures.

    William Love

    May 6, 2011 at 6:13 am

  4. Nice article on GBL. I am developing games for sales training events – both board games for meetings and ILT, and web versions for individual – distributed learning.
    Not haveing a lot of success selling the idea yet, but the few clients and two academic applications have gone well. In one client case, uptick in new sales opportunities was 14% in the first 3 months after the prospecting game was played.
    My games leverage the natural competitive spirit of sales people to encourage participation and replay – very valuable in making the learning sticky. Compared to other ways of training, games provide an incentive to repeat the experience – play again – with immediate feedback – measurement of achievement.

    Of course, the game must have good instructional design to make sure what the participants are doing relates to work skills & abilities. That is probably a lot easier for me in sales training than in many other training content situations.

    If you have an interest, you may play a demo version of my first game, The Race on my website http://www.salescandy.com.

    I wish you good learning.

    Bill Barr

    May 6, 2011 at 6:21 am

  5. […] What Exactly is Game-based Learning? « Game-Based Learning Talk ”Game-based learning (GBL) is a seemingly simple concept – learning through the use of games. But wait, let’s look a little closer. Most people see the term “game-based learning” and think of students playing some sort of educational computer game. But, there’s more to GBL than just that. Let’s take a look at GBL in terms of the game and pedagogical considerations:”     […]

  6. […] What Exactly is Game-based Learning? « Game-Based Learning Talk. […]


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