While playing games is a great leisure activity that people of all ages can enjoy, games can also be used for learning and educational experiences. Some games have been found to improve cognitive functions like memory and reasoning. Other games have the potential to reverse aging related brain function problems such as short term memory loss.
The decision making processes required to play certain games makes the brain work hard. These cognitive exercises can range from simple decisions to the formulation of complex strategies. Children and adults of all ages can benefit from the mental stimulation that game-based learning provides.
Game Based Learning Explained
Game-based learning is a teaching method that allows learners to explore different parts of games as a form of learning. Games can be designed by teachers and other education specialists in a way that balances academic subjects such as history with the strategies, rules and social aspects of playing a game.
As a side-effect of technological growth, game-based learning often generates negative connotations because of its close association with video games, which inevitably raises questions about its consequences. However, these games are typically designed at different ability levels and with the goal of helping the players to retain the information that they learn and apply it to other problem solving situations. Many of these games are relevant to real life situations and will help children to make informed decisions when doing so matters.
Game-based learning can also be done as a collaboration between learners and educators. This type of game creation enhances the playing experience and can lead to a depth and scope of game that are not available through other types of learning experiences.
Motivation and Engagement
Games feel more like a form of entertainment than a method of learning. Because games include rules, definitive objectives, measurable goals and competition, they deliver an interactive experience that promotes a sense of achievement for all of the participants.
Learners are often motivated by hands-on and active learning opportunities. The students are able to work on accomplishing a goal by choosing specific actions. They experience the consequences of the actions, which is one of the ways that a game-based learning experience is similar to real life.
The engagement between learners keeps them coming back to learn even more. The ongoing practices of decision making, planning and learning in a game environment are easy to translate to everyday situations that children will face as they become older.
Learners benefit from the immediate feedback that takes place during game playing. Instead of having to wait days or even weeks for an assignment or test grade, students get instantaneous results about whether or not they made a good decision. They also get to find out the long-term effects of their decision making. One decision at the beginning of a game could have lasting effects throughout play. The rapid feedback helps kids realize when they made a good decision or a bad one.
Educators are able to get rapid feedback by watching how the children engage and react. While playing a game, children also have the freedom to make mistakes without any major consequences of physical or mental harm. They can experiment in a safe environment while playing games. Any mistakes that are made can be discussed in a group setting afterward. This allows students to reflect on what they did and perhaps change their strategy for the next time.
Each time children play the same game, they perform cognitive actions such as recalling the rules, keeping track of hazards and remembering how the sequence of play works. Kids utilize their strategic thinking skills, including using logic to make sound decisions and to plan ahead by making predictions about what might happen next.
Children also develop strong problem solving skills. They will need to think quickly on the spot without being able to hesitate, which is a skill that will serve them throughout their lives. Learners also learn how to think creatively and plan out their moves a few steps ahead. Educational games can result in higher retention rates compared to book learning.
Digital literacy is also present in gaming and is an important skill for a lifetime of technology use. The Global Digital Citizen Foundation found that students need to acquire basic skills such as problem solving, developing creativity, analytic thinking and collaboration with others. Other important skills kids must have in the digital age include strong communication skills, ethics and accountability.
Educational games allow kids to practice and develop physical skills such as hand-eye coordination. They can also work on spatial skills and fine motor skills. Interactive games help kids to do this in an integrated learning environment.
Game-based learning allows kids to develop cognitive, social and physical skills simultaneously. This learning enhances essential life skills like cooperation and teamwork. The knowledge and skills acquired through game-based learning are retained longer than information from other learning methods.
Be sure to check out our articles on various educational games you can include in your classroom!
About the Author: Joe Peters is a freelance writer and an ultimate tech enthusiast from Baltimore. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie enjoys reading about latest apps and gadgets or binge-watching his favorite TV shows. Feel free to reach him on Twitter