Do you want to learn? How about a game? A beautiful college in Chicago decided to take these questions too seriously. So they came up with a brilliant idea. Kendal College in Chicago brought their prospectus to life with augmented reality. Sounds like magic, right? This is just one of the amazing things that game-based learning can do. You can have a look at it here.
When you incorporate video games specially designed to balance subject matter and gameplay into education with defined outcomes, you get an innovative learning technique called game-based learning (GBL). Teachers and students collaborate to add depth and perspective to these games in context of education.
The debate concerning GBL
Before walking down the future lane, let’s get immersed in a little bit of history. The role of video games in education has been a source of debate for quite some time. In 2006, James Paul Gee had an interesting question for the world, “Is it possible to re-imagine how we go about teaching and learning?” The digital divide was beginning to close that year. But there was still a clear gap between digital “haves” and “have-nots”, which frequently correlated with racial and ethnic grouping, age and income level. Therefore, the other group said that even if digital games are available, many students will not be able to access them due to financial restrictions.
Why does GBL work?
Even though the debate rages on, it is nearing a conclusion. And things are looking up now. The real work is finally beginning. With education turning dull with the same old rote memorization drill, game-based learning brings in a breath of fresh air.
- A classroom restricts students a good deal, blurring out the real world outside. Therefore, students need more interactive and effective learning that they can implement in the face of real-world challenges. And this is where game-based learning comes in.
- Susan Ambrose, director of Carnegie Mellon’s Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence is a person who believes in the relevance and successful future of game-based learning. She went on to say that the whole concept is motivational because we can quickly see and understand the connection between the learning experience and our real-life work.
- Every game has a goal. And the player is required to take crucial decisions at every turn and experience the consequence of every decision. It makes taking real life decision easier. One of my friends is a big fanatic of playing games and he tells me, “You won’t know the thrill of taking the wrong turn knowingly unless you experience the thrill.”
- The best part about game based learning is that the mistakes you make are in a risk-free setting, and through experimentation, you actively learn and practice the right way to do things.
- Game based learning does not only teach you the facts, but also the underlying hows and whys of situations. This develops a deeper understanding of facts and this prepares you to perform consistently and effectively in unexpected situations as well.
A wonderful example
Think Minecraft. They play it all day and night. If they are not playing it, they are talking about it or watching YouTube videos of other people playing it. A certain Swedish programmer, who goes by the name of Markus Persson had designed this game in 2009 and now it has 100 million registered users, who can think of nothing other than this “sand-box” game.
All you need to do is, dig and collect blocks. But what comes next is what gets them hooked. It’s all about what you do with the blocks. Since you are supposed to save yourself from zombies, ghouls and various other monsters, your best bet is to build a house or a weapon to survive the night. This is a gold mine for a classroom education. The questions arising regarding Minecraft are proofs in themselves about the progress of game-based learning. “Is Minecraft the ultimate educational tool?” The answer is a resounding “It just might be!”
Factors driving GBL adoption
Among the numerous factors responsible for this advancement in game-based learning, two stand out.
- In the years between 2015 and 2020, nearly one in five employees is expected to retire. And they are to be replaced primarily with 18-30 year olds who grew up with video games. Well-designed digital games help them gain a perspective and understanding of the facts, aiding in a brighter future of companies.
- Various technology advances in the last few decades have called for higher expectations and requirements. For example, the FDA now requires virtual reality training for placement of some stents, and many medical schools have established centers dedicated to simulation training.
Game-based learning can help students with collaboration and experimentation. It helps in improving problem solving skills, raising IQ levels and application of the concepts in Math or Science. And not just that, the benefits go far beyond the classroom into the respective lives of the students. Well-designed digital games—complete with realistic settings and compelling narratives—are to this and future generations what adventure novels like Robinson Crusoe were to previous ones. In spite of the restrictions posed, the future seems bright.