Incorporating games into learning breathes life into education, and students assimilate the information almost without noticing. It also provides educators with a tool for monitoring student progress.
This is because game-based learning requires students to meet goals, and higher-order thinking skills naturally occur based on their successes or failures in meeting those goals.
Game-based learning, which incorporates gaming elements like points and leaderboards into traditional learning activities, increases engagement and motivation. It also encourages learners to engage with content, collaborate with other students, and take risks in a risk-free environment.
Fun and learning games can help learners develop critical and strategic thinking skills and learn to communicate in a team-based setting, two key workplace competencies. They can even hone problem-solving abilities through various challenges, such as a scavenger hunt that requires learners to find items on a list or a programming challenge where learners must send correct solutions rather than trial and error.
Videogames are the fastest-growing industry, surpassing music and cinema, reaching 2.5 billion players worldwide. They also stimulate the release of endorphins, which improve relaxation and concentration, making them ideal for learning. As a result, students retain information longer and become more interested in what they’re learning. Moreover, they become more prone to taking risks, a vital life skill that can lead to success in school and beyond. Incorporating games in the classroom can make learning more exciting for teachers and students.
Games can provide a more free-flowing educational experience, encouraging students to practice concepts repeatedly until they’ve mastered them. This can be a helpful tool for students who struggle with retention or need more repetition to understand complex concepts.
Moreover, many games use a narrative to teach concepts and create engagement. The brain processes stories more effectively than a string of facts, which can help students remember and retain information better.
Furthermore, incorporating gaming elements into learning can encourage students to take risks and try new things. For example, a game allowing students to pilot a helicopter or fly a spaceship can encourage them to think outside the box, take risks, and challenge themselves.
However, if games replace pedagogy or don’t include a meaningful element of the course curriculum, it can be demotivating. For example, a study that used educational gamification to test students’ knowledge before an examination found that when questions in the educational game were too similar to exam formats, it led to lower motivation levels.
Games help develop students’ problem-solving skills because they often require learners to access their short-term and long-term memory to figure out how to play. They also encourage creative thinking and imagining. Incorporating educational games into classroom learning can also improve students’ ability to think outside the box, as they must develop strategies and tactics.
It’s important to note that some students, particularly those with competitive spirits, may not respond well to playing games in class. Therefore, educators must take the time to select appropriate learning games for their classes.
When choosing educational games, teachers should consider the content level and how engaging it is. Ideally, the game should provide different types of content so that every student can find it interesting. It should also offer ways for students to earn rewards that can be used to improve performance in the game or to encourage them to keep playing.
In addition, it’s beneficial to use games that collect data on students’ trouble spots and aptitudes, as these can help teachers shape in-class instruction. For example, some educational games can detect that a student struggles with pronouns and provide them with additional support to learn this skill.
Fun can be a powerful motivator for students, and teaching them to use fun to learn helps improve engagement. This is especially important for classrooms with a wide range of learning styles where the use of games is a way to help every student be successful.
For example, if a student struggles with reading, engaging in a game that requires them to read and interpret rules will help build these skills. Or, a student who has trouble connecting with others may benefit from team-based gaming activities where they can interact and work through challenges with their peers.
As kids play their curriculum-aligned Prodigy math and English games, they better understand their strengths, weaknesses, and personal feelings. They also develop self-management skills by analyzing their successes and failures to help them manage their emotions during gameplay. These skills are crucial to success in the classroom and in life. The more students feel empowered and confident, the more they can tackle challenging classroom lessons. They will also be able to apply their skills learned in the classroom when confronted with similar challenges outside of the classroom.
Adding games into learning can help teachers better assess student progress. This is done by observing students interact and work with each other, which can reveal their thought processes on a topic and provide insight into how much they understand the subject matter.
Classroom management can also be improved by using games in the classroom. Educators can transform traditional games like tic-tac-toe, Monopoly, or even the classic deck of cards into learning games that help build academic skills. For example, a teacher can divide a sheet of paper into squares and place vocabulary words, phonics sounds, or math problems in the squares to create a game that allows students to practice basic skills.
The best educational games engage and excite learners in a way they naturally want to learn. Seek intuitive games, offer different content types to appeal to diverse learning styles, and allow students to move through the game at their own pace, says Banerjee. Also, make sure the game offers a formative assessment.