Unorthodox uses of Games in Education


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Some people are under the belief that games based learning refers simply to class materials being somehow re-worked to a match. However, this isn’t the case. Games based learning is fundamentally the gamification of learning (using gaming principles to help learning). This isn’t limited to conventional subject materials, but may be used to educate people any number of things. Yes, it can be used to teach language and algebra very efficiently. It may also encourage other features like teamwork and great communication skills. And needless to say, games based learning isn’t limited to children!

Second life is a digital online world. You make an avatar which could interact with people and learn more about the world. As this article clarifies, the sport has been successfully utilised to teach languages (through tutorials, texts, links and online learning classes), train medical students (via discussions, pictures, videos, individual stories and weblinks) and even to teach genetics and genomics! Jean-Claude Bradley (a professor and consumer of Second Life for schooling) asserts that “With the rising popularity of gambling, we expect that more faculty and students will use virtual platforms such as ‘Second Life’ to expand the instruction experience. On this platform — where anything is possible — the Library has to explore new methods of supporting academic programs, research and student learning, restricted only by the reach of the imagination.”

Another digital online world kind game is Money Island, aimed at individuals under the age of 21. Money Island teaches pupils about financial obligation, as this article clarifies. The students learn how the economy operates, about spending and saving, earning and investing, interest, using credit wisely and so forth. The game also has tools for parents and teachers to monitor their child’s progress and detailed lesson plans. As a young person myself (20), I believe that financial matters were missing from my formal education and think this game could be a welcome addition to the program (and might produce a more reliable generation of investors and bankers etc).

Minecraft
I’m personally not overly familiar with Minecraft, but as this article explains, ” it is a sandbox style game where consumers can mine for tools, create buildings, fight off monsters, and use their abilities in crafting to create weapons, armour, tools for harvesting, as well as rollercoaster-like mine carts”. There’s lots of material online about Minecraft being used in schools. The article afore mentioned talks about kids learning abilities like prioritising, efficacy, developing strategies, electronic citizenship and the value of hard work. All of these are obviously very important abilities and are the kinds of advantages of games based learning that I am attempting to communicate in this post. School should not be about just teaching kids Maths, English, Science etc, certainly it ought to be growing the next generation of adults. This blog comprises a very comprehensive lesson plan based around Minecraft, which claims that both learning outcomes are to “Apply knowledge of 3 dimensional landscapes to build an electronic landscape and community [and] Collaborate with classmates to plan and create a digital community”.

There are a number of genius teachers that have discovered a way to create Angry Birds educational and this lesson particularly looks great! For those of you’ve escaped the marvels of Angry Birds, you basically work your way through quite a few levels where you catapult birds that have different unique qualities at constructions to be able to destroy pigs which destroys the birds’ eggs at the beginning of the game. Yes, this game is different and yes, it could be informative. This instructor made a transdisciplinary lesson around the sport such as maths (speed, trajectory, angles etc), history (history of the catapult, modern day uses of the technology) as well as music and art (the culture of the time around the creation of the catapult). All the time, the teachers asked the children questions such as “Why is the catapult more precise?” And “How can we calculate movement?” . Genius!

The Kinect apparatus, which is essentially a webcam that tracks your moves and projects them on an onscreen avatar, has had enormous unexpected success for children on the Autistic Spectrum. This article clarifies how the kids can do with the support of Kinect what it might have taken them weeks to perform in intensive treatment. The games work in assisting kids interact socially with other people as the games are “more predictable and less threatening than real life”. Many games specially for children with Autism have been created. This article explains similar results with the Nintendo Wii.

And finally…     Have you ever thought about whether it’s possible to teach maths with Nerf guns? Well apparently the answer is yes it is! This blog teaches you how you can teach maths and more especially ‘coordinate graphing’ with Nerf guns.

As you can see, there’s a universe of games based learning there and it might take on less traditional forms that you might first imagine. Games are being adopted to teach life skills, motor skills, communication skills, subject based skills etc successfully to a broad assortment of individuals, in a fun way! Games based learning might be the way forward and as this article asserts, virtual learning may actually be better than conventional ‘experiential’ learning.

However, having said that, these commercial games might not be perfectly suited to learning. They mostly rely on great teachers creating great lesson plans and crowbarring them somewhat into the program. This might just be a sign that matches based learning is at the early adopter stage and therefore, teachers are discovering unorthodox answers to their difficulty. They wish to work with games, but the only ones available to them are commercial games or program ‘games’ which don’t have the same advantage. An earlier blog article talks about the uses of games in instructional settings and the way commercial games can fall short. Additionally, it suggests ways that purpose built games may overcome these variables. It is definitely worth a look! This article talks about what makes a great learning game. The writer notes that if a person can score tremendously without learning, they’ll perform (which can happen with commercial games) and therefore, learning games should contain certain elements. I believe that as games based learning becomes more widespread, we’re going to see more purpose built games of a similar calibre to a number of these commercial games becoming more mainstream.


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Shashank Jain

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