What is it?

Game-based learning is a form of game play that has specific learning objectives and outcomes. Essentially it can be defined as modules or lessons that provide interaction and competition that engage leaners to learn through games. Game-based learning can range from paper and pencil games, such as word searches, to role-playing games to multifaceted online video and computer simulations. For example, using a role-play game for learning offers students the opportunity to collaborate, apply their knowledge and get feedback within a safe environment. Whether face to face or virtual, game-based learning is intended to create a balance between subject matter ...

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Game-based learning is a form of game play that has specific learning objectives and outcomes. Essentially it can be defined as modules or lessons that provide interaction and competition that engage leaners to learn through games. Game-based learning can range from paper and pencil games, such as word searches, to role-playing games to multifaceted online video and computer simulations. For example, using a role-play game for learning offers students the opportunity to collaborate, apply their knowledge and get feedback within a safe environment. Whether face to face or virtual, game-based learning is intended to create a balance between subject matter and game play that results in the player gaining knowledge and the ability to apply what they have learnt to the real world. An effective game should have three main features. The first is an element of competition – the player can either compete with themselves, the technology or with others. The second is engagement – if a game engages leaners their learning will just evolve as the game is played. Third is a form of reward – this can be though scoring or other features that will promote learners to continue playing the game.

Another buzz word in Game Education is Gamification. There has been an error in some publications to confuse Game-based learning with Gamification, but they are in fact significantly different. The goal for both is to engage students by encouraging specific behaviours and assist them in keeping track of their own learning. However, with gamification this is done though badges or point systems (leader boards) or other game like mechanics. These game mechanics are applied to existing learning activities. For example badges can be awarded to students who have reached a certain level by submitting extra work, achieve an above average test score, or for engaged participation within class discussions. As with Leader board’s students can see each other’s point totals obtained through designated learning activities. However, with leader boards for some students seeing themselves near the bottom might find this demotivating. The objective with these mechanisms is to encourage students to engage and be motivated to learn the course material in order to achieve points or badges.

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When to use it?

Context & Requirements

Level
All levels
Discipline
All disciplines
Class size
All class sizes
Classroom settings
Dependent on the type of activity
Technological requirements
Dependent on the type of activity

Skills Promoted

  • Analytical reasoning
  • Collaborative learning
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving

Who’s using it?

SALTISE community members who use this strategy and are willing to share advice and/or resources.

Level University
Institution Concordia University
Discipline Social Sciences - Linguistics
Instructor Philippe Caignon
Class size Varies
Classroom setting Traditional Classroom
Activity: Family Feud
Resources used View More
Level College
Institution John Abbott College
Discipline Physics - Mechanics
Instructor Phoebe Jackson
Class size 30-40
Classroom setting Traditional Classroom
Activity: Forces Scavenger Hunt
Resources used View More
Level College
Institution Dawson College
Discipline Biology - Physiology
Instructor Francesca Theirault
Class size 30-40
Classroom setting Smart room or a room with enough space to physically run around
Activity: Race for the Hat!
Resources used View More
Level College
Institution Vanier College
Discipline Biology - NYA
Instructor Edward Awad
Class size Varies
Classroom setting Interactive white board (real-time class data analysis)
Activity: Darwin’s Finches
Resources used View More

Why use it?

Using game-based learning can be a great ‘ice-breaker’ to begin the semester and depending on how the game is designed can be used by the instructor to gauge the level of knowledge that students are coming into the course with or identify topics that may require extra attention during the semester. Games can also work very well as an informal method of assessment. Often students become stressed when tested on their knowledge (quizzes, exams). By using a game-like activity instead, students are more likely to open up and participate.

Students must be given enough time to complete a game activity and be allowed to undergo several tries through trial and error. For larger classes it can be difficult for the instructor to efficiently manage a large number of groups requiring feedback at once, so it helps to cut down on the requirements of a game. Depending on the structure if a game requires participation some students may be shy to answer questions and class participation may be limited.

Ready to try it out?

Helpful resources

References

Raymond, C. (2010). Do Role‐Playing Simulations Generate Measurable and Meaningful Outcomes? A Simulation’s Effect on Exam Scores and Teaching EvaluationsInternational Studies Perspectives11(1), 51-60.

Cornillie, F., Thorne, S. L., & Desmet, P. (2012). ReCALL special issue: Digital games for language learning: challenges and opportunitiesReCALL: the Journal of EUROCALL24(3), 243.

Papp, T.  A. (2017). Gamification Effects on Motivation and Learning: Application to Primary and College Students. International Journal for Cross-Disciplinary Subjects in Education (IJCDSE), Sept., 8(3).

Subhash, S. & Cudney, E. A. (2018). Gamified learning in higher education: A systematic review of the literature. Computers in Human Behavior V87, Oct, pp 192-206, Elsevier Science Direct

Hung, A., Zarco, E. , Yang, M., Dembicki, D. & Kase, M. (2017) Gamification in the wild: Faculty perspectives on gamifying learning in higher education. Issues and Trends in Educational Technology, 5 (2).

Oxford Analytica (2016). Gamification and the Future of Education. Posted on the World Government Summit website

Dunwill, E. (2016). Beyond K-12: 8 Reasons Why Higher Education Should Adopt Gamification. Emerging Ed Tech website

Tech Tools

Froguts Inc

3rd World Farmer

ChemSense

Kahoot!

50 Great Sites for Serious Educational Games

Video

Reimagining education – Michael Bodekaer | TEDxCERN

Improving Participation and Learning with Gamification – Gabriel Barata, University of Waterloo Stratford School

Gamification and the Future of Education – World Government Summit

Faces of Innovation: Gamified Learning – Lambton College,  gamifying courses on D2L’s Brightspace platform.

To Learn More

For more resources go to Articles and Books