Using games in learning became in vogue in the early 1960s. Jean Piaget praised the use of games in learning. He said play could help simulate real-life conflict and help resolve them. Today, we integrate digital game-based learning.
Benefits of Game-Based Learning
- Digital game-based learning gives learners a chance to think and work in new ways.
- Educators can customize a game to fit the learning.
- Most importantly, learners get real practice and opportunities to think creatively.
The idea is simple. Digital game-based learning means using video games as a tool. Some might call this gamification, but it isn’t. That only swaps one element of education with something game-based.
Merits of Digital Game-Based Learning in Teaching Concepts
- Digital game-based learning allows for learners to practice skills in hands-on authentic activities that can be applied in the real world.
- While learners work, educators can expect real-time results and assessment of understanding. Therefore, they can provide immediate feedback during learning activities.
- Digital game-based learning is adaptive. This means correct answers lead to more challenges, whereas wrong answers lead to more practice.
- Learners can also self-assess and correct their own errors.
- Ultimately, this leaves time for educators to support the learning in larger groups.
Digital game-based learning motivates and challenges but does not frustrate learners. Why is that? Let’s think about the challenges that a particular video game may pose.
With most video games, players expect to fail various levels. However, this only builds up their desire to beat it. Players learn as they go. What works? What doesn’t work? How can I pass this level?
The reward is intrinsic, “I got it!” Therefore, the triumph of completing a level motivates the player or learner to keep trying. Most importantly, regardless of previous failures, the experience is positive.
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Integrating Game-Based Learning into a Curriculum
- Digital games can be designed for a specific learning purpose to support the learning in most subject matters.
- Educators can choose from existing digital games that already address course requirements.
Why integrate digital game-based learning in Higher Ed?
- There’s a social aspect of problem solving. Therefore, it’s engaging.
- In a game, players bring urgency to finding solutions. It drives them to succeed. It is exciting to win!
- Finally, the hands-on application makes it meaningful.
Avoiding the Pitfalls of Digital Game-based Learning
It is important to consider the best way to integrate digital game-based learning.
- Digital game-based learning has to be a part of a plan that includes non-game related activities.
- Digital learning has to support a larger curricular goal or outcome.
- Make the digital game-based aspect of the learning meaningful and applicable to the overall concept taught.
- If the focus is all on the game, then it’s just playing.