Good Practices in Game Based Learning

For centuries, teachers have been trying to make students interested in learning with all available means. For centuries also they have been using games and incorporating them into teaching to make it more student-friendly. Chess was used to teach strategic thinking as far back as the Middle Ages, and the game of Kreigsspiel was invented in 1812 specifically to teach Prussian officers strategy. According to The Penguin English Dictionary (2002) a game is an activity engaged in for diversion or amusement. Physical or mental competition conducted according to rules with the participants in direct opposition to each other. Today the approach to use games in the process of teaching became one of the best regarded among teachers.

What is actually game-based learning? Definitions mostly emphasize that it is a type of game play with defined learning outcome. Other definition calls it the use of games directly in the process of teaching and learning or learning facilitated by or happening with a specially designed educational game. Whichever definition we adopt, a fact is that game-based learning includes elements of competition, engagement, and immediate reward. Players should receive immediate feedback—for example, scoring—when a goal is accomplished.

A game-based learning environment allows students to compete with one another or work collaboratively; it provides a level of challenge that motivates students’ learning.

The core concept behind game-based learning is teaching through repetition, failure and the accomplishment of goals. The player starts off slow and gains in skill until they’re able to skillfully navigate the most difficult levels. Game-based learning takes the same concept and applies it to teaching a curriculum. Students work toward a goal, choosing actions and experiencing the consequences of these actions. When students work on game-based learning they’re probably just thinking that they’re having fun with a game, learning takes place subconsciously. The game becomes a part of the learning process, and it is aimed at teaching a discrete skill or a specific learning outcome while giving learners an engaging experience. Games can be used to reinforce concepts learned in class, to create greater engagement with course material, and to provide multiple methods of approaching course material.

Tips and tricks for teachers

Play is not a luxury, but rather a crucial dynamic of healthy physical, intellectual and socio-emotional development at all age levels. David Elkind, “The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally”.

Therefore, PLAY, but remember you should always have a LEARNING OBJECTIVE in mind when choosing a game for your subject or a particular class.

• In order to understand the game, play it yourself with family or friends. Planning a lesson using GBL comes easy if you have tried it before.

• Watch our tutorials about the games or go online if you are still puzzled.

• Take into consideration the type of lesson you are planning (new concepts, reinforcement of the concepts/practice, skill practice, reviewing) and then choose the appropriate game.

• Choose wisely when planning your game moment: group or individual play?

• Students should be mentally prepared for the objectives of the game and the perspective. Presenting general rules will increase implication, motivation and fun.

• The games develop targeted skills, but also skills you did not consider.

• Interaction and exchange of solutions make any game useful and a win overall.

• Errors can be turned into jokes or funny new rules! Or they can be written down to be avoided next time!

• Each game can be adapted or improved. Students can add optional game challenges to increase the difficulty of the base game. These new challenges can be used individually or combined for even more difficult play.

• Each game can be adapted or improved. Students can add optional game challenges to increase the difficulty of the base game. These new challenges can be used individually or combined for even more difficult play.

• Certain games develop certain skills, but all of them can teach taking turns, patience, fairplay.

• Create a safe learning environment and teach empathy while playing educational games. Some people seem slow, but they can prove to be deep thinkers.

• In some games, when players work together, the solutions and discussions can become intense, and even controversial – pay attention to the students who need to practice flexibility in thinking. It can be challenging, but the results are extraordinary.

• Mixed participants avoid avid players to take control of the games. Avid players can be made responsible for explaining the rules.

• If you take risks, take calculated risks. Encourage your students not to rely too often on luck, but rather have a good strategy.

• Winning may be the most important part of a game, but you should also reward the effort and collaboration – not everyone can win a game, but all of your students can score good points in their personal development.

Board Games

• Pay attention to the game package – it should contain all the pieces needed to play.

• Prepare the space for board games. Create a proper co-work space for your students to play in – class management.

• Encourage your students to read the instructions; also guide them through understanding the instructions.

• They can be adapted to almost any subject. Make a template and then involve your students to contribute. Thus they will go through certain concepts and will think of strategies more motivated.

Online games – Troubleshooting

• „My game doesn’t start!” – Make sure that all your electronic devices work properly before starting the game.

• „I want to play this game but I don’t have my smartphone on me!” – Pay attention to what type of device (PC, smartphone, both) is needed in order to play the game.

• „The game won’t load!” – Check your internet connection, there’s no gaming without the Internet.

• „I don’t understand how the game is played!” – Watch one of our tutorials about the game, or search it online. You can also ask your students to play it and then explain it to the rest of the class.

• „I want to add extra players to the group but I can’t!” – Make an account on the game platform in order to benefit from extra features.

• „I can’t find a lesson about my subject on the game’s platform!” – Customize your game content in order to achieve your teaching goals, create your own subject/topic.

REMEMBER!

Play is our brain’s favourite way of learning, as Diane Ackerman (contemporary American author) said. Use the games wisely, targeted and in an engaging manner! EVERYBODY WILL BECOME A WINNER!

 

prof. Iolanda Sztrelenczuk

Profil iTeach: iteach.ro/profesor/iolanda.sztrelenczuk

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