What is Game-Based Learning?

Game-based learning has gained considerable traction since 2003, when James Gee began to describe the impact of game play on cognitive development. Since then, research — and interest in — the potential of gaming on learning has exploded, as has the diversity of games themselves, with the emergence of serious games as a genre, the proliferation of gaming platforms, and the evolution of games on mobile devices. Developers and researchers are working in every area of game-based learning, including games that are goal-oriented; social game environments; non-digital games that are easy to construct and play; games developed expressly for education; and commercial games that lend themselves to refining team and group skills. Role-playing, collaborative problem solving, and other forms of simulated experiences are recognized for having broad applicability across a wide range of disciplines.

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

  • Game-based learning can prompt experiential learning through play, in ways that foster critical evaluation and participation. "Gameful" approaches (McGonigal, 2011: http://janemcgonigal.com/) to learning can also help students to address real-world social issues in ways that create a collaborative and engaging learning environment (Jones, 2010; Smith-Robbins, 2011). McGonigal demonstrates that this is possible through her alternate reality games World Without Oil http://www.worldwithoil.org) and Evoke (http://www.urgentevoke.com)--games that prompts real-world learning and participation through action. Although "gameful" approaches to learning are often mediated by technology (think Fate of the World (http://www.fateoftheworld.net): and Peacemaker), it is the way that game-based learning is designed and facilitated that really matter--even more than the technology.- jasonr jasonr Nov 7, 2011
  • Massively-multiplayer games for Language learning- jasonr jasonr Nov 7, 2011
  • I thought gamification was a new concept for me, and one that certainly excites me in terms of the possibilities it offers of increasing the engagement of students, particularly in tasks that do not necessarily have a direct impact on their grades. Having said that, a lot of the concepts do feel strangely familiar - going back to my school days, we were divided into one of four "Houses" and points were earned for outstanding academic or sporting achievment, with the winning "House" getting a trophy at the end of the year. Bearing in mind this was back in the 70's, I can't help feeling that gamification has been around for an awful long time - the Olympics spring to mind. Perhaps things have just come full circle - games were based on life, and now life is being based on games...- damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Nov 15, 2011 - jochen.robes jochen.robes Nov 18, 2011
  • - melissa.burgess melissa.burgess Nov 17, 2011Gaming-based learning, will have a tremendous impact on student learning. Bottom line, we need to create learning environments that appeal to the learner. Case in point, my 6 year old son had a difficult time learning his spelling words (1st grade). I had my 16 year old son, not only embed the spelling words into Minecraft, but he created the activities in levels whereby once my younger son progressed from spelling word to the next, he would then need to read 2 or 3 of the spelling words together, and then finally read sentences using the spelling words.
  • Well-designed uses of games in education work in two complementary directions. The direct creation or use of games can make concepts and tools for manipulating them accessible to students in ways that they were not before. At the same time, the study and understanding of games in education can lead to redesigning the educational experience in ways that are informed by what we have learned about how games work - even if that learning experience does not involve the creation or use of an actual game. It is important to realize that neither of these approaches are well-served by the recent vogue for superficial "gamification" (see below) - creating and using game-based knowledge in education requires a true understanding of the mechanics involved. - rubenrp rubenrp Nov 21, 2011

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Lots and lots of game research perspectives to include: David Shaffer (http://epistemicgames.org), Constance Steinkueler (Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison), Sasha Barab (problem-based learning approaches), Kurt Squire (MIT), Jane McGonigal, Ian Bogost (http://persuasivegames.com)- jasonr jasonr Nov 7, 2011
  • Key words = Authentic learning approaches, Experiential learning, Gameful participation (note: this is not the same as gamification )- jasonr jasonr Nov 7, 2011
  • One of the factors I believe will impact on the adoption, or otherwise, of gamification is the name - I come into contact with a lot of academics who would be horrified at yet another perceived attempt to "Dumb down" education by "turning it into a game" therefore ignoring the possible benefits of such a system.- damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Nov 15, 2011
  • - melissa.burgess melissa.burgess Nov 17, 2011knowledge of game design theory, optimal experience, gaming platforms
  • It's important to remember the narrative/storytelling aspect of gaming. Gamers like epic quests, a quintessential and very old form of storytelling. Games with a strong narrative elicit deep affective and social commitment.- gardner.campbell gardner.campbell
  • Games like "Little Big Planet" that provide toolkits for creating and sharing new game levels spark extraordinary creativity and commitment.- gardner.campbell gardner.campbell Nov 20, 2011
  • Students graduating from educational projects like Quest 2 Learn (http://q2l.org) have already learned to both use and create games as a key component of their formal learning process. How will colleges and universities respond to these students? - rubenrp rubenrp Nov 21, 2011
  • In recent months, a superficial approach to game-based learning has gained some traction under the label of "gamification". This use of the label has nothing to do with thoughtful approaches such as Jane McGonigal's, and is more closely related to the type of empty game-like mechanics observed in experiences such as Zynga's FarmVille. It is important for educational institutions to avoid confusing true game-based learning with superficial gamification. For an intro to the topic, see Ian Bogost: http://www.bogost.com/blog/gamification_is_bullshit.shtml - rubenrp rubenrp Nov 21, 2011

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

  • To help students engage to deal with real-world issues in ways that are authentic and "challenge-based"- jasonr jasonr Nov 7, 2011
  • To provide faculty members with teaching and learning strategies that up-end "traditional" lecture-based approaches to classroom instruction- jasonr jasonr Nov 7, 2011
  • Students often seem to be under prepared for a life outside the education system, and in UK HE we are increasingly concerned with the future employability of our graduates - if gamification can help with that, it has to be a good thing. After all, life is a game that one plays according to the rules...- damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Nov 15, 2011
  • - melissa.burgess melissa.burgess Nov 17, 2011This technology will require new skills and knowledge, therefore professional development in the creation of game-based learning will need to be addressed.

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

  • Global Social Problems at St. Edward's University: http://academic.stedwards.edu/globalsocialproblems/ by Jason Rosenbum and Bob Strong: an undergraduate Cultural Foundations course redesigned using "Superhero-style" gaming strategies inspired by Jane McGonigal's Superhero-styled gameful approach in Evoke. Heavy use of social media for research and action. Values-based action and real-world engagement. Peer review process involving "character traits" and profile-based Badge system. - jasonr jasonr Nov 7, 2011
  • Pilot use of Peacemaker (http://www.peacemakergame.com) in a Spring 2011 St. Edward's University undergraduate International Security and Conflict Resolution course by Jennifer Dornan-Fish; 5-6 student teams; instructor prompted play and facilitated; students role-played either the Prime Minister of Israel or the Palestinian Leader and journaled their experiences.- jasonr jasonr Nov 7, 2011
  • use of Peacemaker at Dickinson College conflict resolution course (Todd Bryant) : adoption of Peacemaker to prompt student engagement around the topic of peace in the mid-east. Instructor prompted play. Reflected using blog postings- jasonr jasonr Nov 7, 2011
  • Alternate Reality Games for Enterprise Education: Bridging the reality gap between simulation and authentic experience - By Simon Brookes, principal lecturer at the Universith of Portsmouth in the UK:http://simonbrookes.wordpress.com, http://www.vimeo.com/22688990- jasonr jasonr Nov 7, 2011

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