What is Game-Based Learning?

Game-based learning refers to the integration of games or gaming mechanics into educational experiences. This topic has gained considerable traction over the past decade as games have proven to be effective learning tools, and beneficial in cognitive development and the fostering of soft skills among learners, such as collaboration, communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking. The forms of games grow increasingly diverse and some of the most commonly used for educational purposes include alternate reality games (ARG), massively multiplayer online games (MMO), and global social awareness games. Most games that are currently used for learning across a wide range of disciplines share similar qualities: they are goal-oriented; have strong social components; and simulate some sort of real world experience that people find relevant to their lives. As game-based learning garners more attention, developers are responding with games expressly designed to support immersive, experiential learning.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Games and game-based approaches are able to promote opportunities for experiential learning and critical inquiry. According to Kurt Squire, games are able to do this because they offer players "designed experiences" which let students "learn through a grammar of doing and being" (Squire, 2006). Epistemic games in particular embody this philosophy to create learning environments that model professional experiences and provide students with opportunities for authentic learning (David Shaffer, http://edgaps.org/gaps/) Squire, K. (2006). From content to context: Video games as designed experiences. Educational Researcher, 35(8), 11. doi: DOI 10.3102/0013189X035008019
    - jasonr jasonr Nov 26, 2012
  • At CASLS at UO, we are creating online foreign language instruction modules in Mandarin and Swahili for K-12 students. We have been experimenting with gamification features in our pilot project and have clearly seen an increase in student engagement, peer -to -peer collaboration and scaffolding. If gamification is done well and is properly suited for the application, it can tap into a student's intrinsic motivation. We also design courses for higher education high proficiency speakers of foreign languages. In future iterations of these courses we will most likely implement these same kinds of principles. - deborah.heal deborah.heal Nov 27, 2012 Another response here. I agree with Deborah. game-based learning is an incredible tool with regards to learning languages. Beyond just being an effective teaching tool for the active languages typically offered by most academic institutions, they offer educators and researchers the means to preserve endangered languages, such as a number of the North American Native American dialects (http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/sdcounty/education-video-games-teach-traditional-tongue/article_426eefc0-6476-5781-804d-cb1d5a5516a6.html?comment_form=true), using translated games, web-based games, virtual environments (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmP17acPYCE), and mobile apps (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/story/2012/11/15/north-inuktitut-video-game.html, http://ndnnews.com/2012/04/ho-chunk-language-ipad-app-free-in-the-itunes-store/). - Dougdar Dougdar Dec 2, 2012
  • If we agree that effective learning is a process that fosters transformation, then effective gamification is clearly part of effective learning. It's steadily and increasingly becoming a significant part of our academic world, and first-rate companies around the world are receiving recognition for effective use of gamification in workplace learning and performance (staff training) efforts. When we watch John Hunter's TED talk on "Teaching With the World Peace Game," we see a fabulous example of the power of gamification in the hands of a great learning facilitator working with learners who are trusted and supported by that educator. When we see Michael Wesch's cutting-edge experiments in fostering learning and creativity through his World Simulation course, we realize that gamification creates levels of engagement and nurtures critical-thinking skills that are all-too-often missing from educational settings. And when we skim sites along the lines of the Gamification wiki, we receive confirmation that "Academics are creating a skin of respectability for gamification." MIT's Scratch project is one of many examples receiving plenty of attention for its innovations and its intriguing results. We ignore the potential of gamification in learning at our own peril.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Dec 1, 2012
  • Exploiting new technologies by creating game based learning can be extremely rewarding, Collaborative approaches such as set collections, virtual currency, messaging, geo tagging serendipitous discovery, competitions can all be used to facilitate learning.- DaveP DaveP Dec 2, 2012
  • Gaming and simulations have been used by the US military for decades. It provides role play and practice for critical strategic thinking around specific scenarios. Engagement and iterative feedback are critical to the learning process. Games offer both. While games can be single players, it is the games that provide team play--collaboration and problem solving that I find the most interesting. I think games that integrate augmented and physical reality, with computer games that seek as their narrative to solve real problems to be the most interesting. What if a game, a learning environment, is enhanced with learning algorithms where the game learns as we interact with it. What if the premise of the game is a world problem (I am thinking of Jane McGonigal's approach to social gaming narratives--http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world.html) for example, the US fiscal cliff and our tenable budget). Create the game, open it to large game play, and take advantage of the game learning from the players. The environment learns as the participants learn. It would be an interesting way to solve problems as well as learn concepts.- paulette.robinson paulette.robinson Dec 2, 2012
  • Academic programs, especially those dealing with game design, will need be become keenly aware of how to create educational gaming solutions, considering game-based learning is being employed to address a wide-range of social and life learning needs, including autism (http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/story/2012-05-31/video-games-autism-students/55319452/1), personal health needs (http://www.latimes.com/health/boostershots/la-heb-some-video-games-can-help-fight-cancer-obesity-20120918,0,6925330.story), assisting the visually impaired (http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/ingame/how-video-game-assists-visually-impaired-1B6013891), improving memory and treating brain related challenges (http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=22063866, http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2012/08/20/neurotopia-video-game-taps-into-brain-waves-to-sharpen-users-focus/, http://chronicle.com/blogs/percolator/damaged-baby-brains-and-a-video-game-fix/28695?sid=pm&utm_source=pm&utm_medium=en), and helping students with learning disabilities (http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2012/08/06/high-tech-phys-ed-class-gets-special-needs-students-moving-prepared-for-life/), and as they are leveraged as part of educational programs teaching a variety of subjects that include civics (http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/10/video-games-that-bring-civics-class-to-life/), chemistry (http://www.ejel.org/issue/download.html?idArticle=188, http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11165-012-9322-1?LI=true), medicine (http://library.iated.org/view/LIBIN2012ADV), and classical literature (http://oxfordstudent.com/2012/08/04/classical-literature-gamified-to-encourage-children-to-read/). Providing specialization within game development that provides applies game theory, level design, art, and programming with targeted academic outcomes geared toward specific curriculum and program will be a natural adaptation, but will likely involve interdisciplinary cooperation from education and other departments that serve as subject matter experts. - Dougdar Dougdar Dec 2, 2012
  • (2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • I would also include a discussion about game-based approaches to the description. I suggest we re-position the discussion of games as a technology, or of the mechanics of games as characterized by "gamification" (an overemphasized term), and instead focus on game-based approaches/philosophy (as discussed by people like McGonigal) to foster engagement and experiential learning. FYI, see http://gameful.org for a community of practitioners who are dedicated to exploring creative, innovative applications for educational games and has now officially partnered with Games For Change (http://gameful.org)- jasonr jasonr Nov 26, 2012
  • Mobile game-based creation: easy with ARIS games: http://arisgames.org- jasonr jasonr Nov 26, 2012
  • Gamification doesn't work in all educational situations and in fact, some of the key elements (progress bars, badges and leader boards) may actually prove to be a disincentive. Important steps to be taken: Define learning objectives; delineate target behaviors, describe players, devise activity loops, don't forget the fun, and deploy appropriate tools. Excellent new reference book: Werbach, K. & Hunter, D, (2012)"For The Win", Wharton Digital Press. While this publication is oriented toward business, the principles can be extrapolated for a school/college learning environment. - deborah.heal deborah.heal Nov 27, 2012
  • While gamification is an interesting aspect of educational games, it needs to be put into perspective in terms of what do you hope the students to learn. The great thing about gamification is that it is brought games to a more positive light.- paulette.robinson paulette.robinson Dec 2, 2012
  • With the corporate world starting to adopt game-based learning for their training programs (http://www.trainingmag.com/content/game-based-learning-corporate-world), familiarity with, and experience using game-based learning solutions will further equip students for success as they transition out of their academic careers and into the professional sphere. Additionally, an active student segment that has gone through programs with game-based learning solutions will be able to demonstrate the potential application and effectiveness of educational strategies
    that used gaming for teaching, disseminating information, and gaining relevant experiences. - Dougdar Dougdar Dec 2, 2012

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, research, or creative inquiry?

  • As we begin to think of ways in which curriculum can be "gameful", we can start to re-think and re-envision the classroom as an opportunity for what Michael Wesch (citing Buber) calls a "genuine meeting" (http://mediatedcultures.net/smatterings/why-good-classes-fail/)- jasonr jasonr Nov 26, 2012
  • The potential impact is using these principles to increase meta-learning and self-regulation with the hope of creating students as independent learners or 'active agents' of learning. - deborah.heal deborah.heal Nov 27, 2012
  • First-rate gamification demonstrates and continues to offer tremendous potential in fostering creativity, critical thinking skills, collaboration, and the flexibility to incorporate a variety of resources into the educational process.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Dec 1, 2012
  • Games offer an amazing engagement and feedback loop for learning. I think higher education is just beginning to overcome its prejudice on how games can offer learning and problem solving opportunities that immerse the students in learning a topic. They can be used creatively for overall assessment. Students get academic credit when they achieve certain levels of the games--demonstrating they have grasped the learning outcomes. They can be used for academic research to observe large groups of individuals responding in particular ways to problems. I would like to see students creating learning games as course projects adding to instructional content for others studying the topic.- paulette.robinson paulette.robinson Dec 2, 2012
  • Game-based educational experiences prove to be a viable method for learning and gaining a deeper understanding of subject matter. These engagements offer unique interactions with content and information that the learner can build upon as they incorporate key human cognitive learning principles (http://www.theesa.com/games-improving-what-matters/education.asp).- Dougdar Dougdar Dec 2, 2012; T
  • They also offetr the learner contro over the pavce of their learning.- vkumar vkumar Dec 2, 2012
  • According to research by the Entertainment Software Association, nearly 50% of all American homes have a video game consoles, and more Americans than ever are playing video games on smartphones, tablets and handheld devices. In addition, the 2012 Edition of the Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry Report (http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2012.pdf ), 30% of gamers are playing games on their smartphones - a 20% increase over 2011, and 25% play on wireless devices – up 13% from 2011. This pre-existing familiarity with game-related engagements, and interactions and socializations, especially within MMOs (massively multiplayer online games), aligns with experiential learning models. This makes game-based education a natural learning strategy for current and upcoming students, and often educators that are familiar with gaming (http://www.connectededucation.com/2012/02/ten-reasons-why-game-based-learning-works-in-education/). Gaming offers learners a level of immersion and sensory engagement that can reinforce learning objectives and gain critical foundational learning experiences that are fully applicable within or outside of game-based learning environments. Given the expectations and background of students that are in the classroom, it is an intuitive mode of learning and communication.- Dougdar Dougdar Dec 2, 2012

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?