‘Learning’ means the attainment of skills and thought processes necessary for responding suitably in times of need, under various situations. Learning does not mean simply memorizing books. William Butler Yeats has rightly commented ‘Education is not
the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire’. It is high time that we should realize this truth and take steps to put forth efficient and interactive experiences that can influence and dynamically employ us in the learning curriculum. This is exactly where game-based learning fits in with incorporation of educational games.
There are several implications in delivering gaming experiences in education and training. Almost 170 million people in U.S. played computer and videogames in 2008, with the expenditure of a record $11.7 billion. It thus becomes evident that well-designed games have the potential for achievement of specific learning goals, with the generation of a group of exceedingly provoked learners who are enthusiastic in engaging with and practicing in application of problem-solving skills. It is due to the implications of well-designed games that have led more than 11 million subscribers to spend an average of 23 hours within a week being engrossed in a World of Warcraft. Nevertheless, it becomes apparent that the factors that make well-designed games to be greatly stimulating also seem to play a role in making them ideal learning environments.
Effective game-based learning
In an educational environment, all types of educational games are explicitly designed to meet certain educational purposes like teaching people about certain subjects, growing concepts, reinforcing growth, understanding an historical event or culture, or assisting them in learning skill while they play. Nowadays, there are many games like ‘God of War’ which teach about Greek legends and ‘We the jury’ which teach about legal cases. Higher education is on its way for extensive integration of all sorts of games like Simulation Based Games, Massively Multiplayer Online games, Alternate Reality Games, Serious Games that happen on real world social issues, within the classroom environment.
Good game-based learning applications can bring us into realistic environments that tend to look and feel familiar and relevant. Dr. Susan Ambrose, Director of Carnegie Mellon’s Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence said that game-based learning tend to be inspirational since we can envisage and understand the relation that exists between the learning experience and our real life work at a fast pace.
Within an effective game-based learning environment, we work towards an objective, selecting actions and experiencing the consequences of those events all through the way. We are likely to make faults in a risk-free environment, and by means of experimentation, we seem to actually learn and practice the right way to perform things. No doubt, this makes us in keeping greatly employed in working behaviors and thought processes that we shift from the virtual environment to real life without any difficulty. In game-based environments, we learn not only the particulars, but also the significant, fundamental ways and reasons. This consideration of deeper, more hypothetical values prepares us to for working repeatedly and efficiently, even in new and unforeseen circumstances. Game-based learning provides adaptability for more than one learning style, and can also affect the cognitive and psychomotor skills.
A team at the National Foundation for Education Research took a glance of the evidence of game-based learning and its possible impact on education and knowledge. The report of the team drew its attention on a range of sources, including empirical, practice-based evidence and more tentative literature, published from 2006 onwards and it became relevant every time that those video games can create a positive impact on problem solving skills, motivation and engagement. However, researchers found it was indistinct whether this impact could be continued over time. The report also provided information for teachers about the method for the integration of games into their teaching by using it within a clear academic process and also by making the academic content integral to the game rather than as an add-on. There were also recommendations for senior leaders who are eager to support the use of game-based learning in their schools.
Designing game environments
All games are not designed in the same manner. While learning through games can be very effective, they can become a disruption, and thus seem to make one too much concentrated on the games and not on the learning.
Furthermore, the games we tend to give up are actually the ones that let us down with respect to learning. They seem to do a bad job in structuring our learning experience, and leave us to feel uninterested or upset. Thus, game environments need to be prepared around how we learn, in order to prove to be efficient, and this is exactly where teachers and parents play a vital role. Carnegie Mellon’s Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence has combined a few basic principles that represent the learning methodology. A few key principles in learning methodology are given here:
Principle 1: Students’ earlier awareness can help or hamper learning.
Principle 2: Students’ enthusiasm leads to the decision, guidance and sustenance of their performance for learning.
Principle 3: For developing mastery, students must gain constituent skills, put into practice in integrating them, and learn when to make an application what they have learned.
Principle 4: Objective-targeted performance along with targeted comment improves the worth of students’ learning.