Fortnight, Legend of Zelda, League of Legends, Minecraft. The list only seems to go on and on.
Those are just a few of the games you might have heard about from your kids when you managed to catch a rare glimpse of them out of their gaming lair (otherwise known as their room).
For days, you might notice how they keep their eyes glued to their computer screens, busily being the main character in the stories that these games immerse them in. Perhaps you shake your head, concerned about that lackluster grade report card that they’ve just reluctantly shown you. If only somehow this obsession with video games could be replaced with more of a passion for educational games – the kind that would not only be fun, but also help your kids learn material directly related to their courses.
With a sigh, you take a moment to time travel back to the good old days, when you were just a kid.
At a period where phones and computers hadn’t yet taken over the world, you simply loved the games of your generation — the classic board games like Monopoly, Clue, and Risk, which provided great memories during your childhood years.
However, beyond good times alone, these games had a much larger impact on your learning development than you might have realized. As you engaged in these games, you were already working on problem solving and critical thinking without even realizing. It’s in these situations where learning becomes the most effective and fun.
So why should modern education for our students and kids these days be purely textbook and lecture based? To get the better grades that you want for your students, it may be time to finally explore the potential of supporting learning through games. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of game-based learning and the strategies you can take to implement them today.
The benefits of game-based learning
Out with the textbooks and in with the new.
Welcome to game-based learning — a teaching strategy that uses the power of games to help students achieve learning objectives. It’s a method that’s increasingly becoming popular in the classrooms, and for good reason.
The research alone shows just how promising it is, with a 2018 study finding “evidence that the use of educational games could support and increase the mathematics learning outcomes.” Another 2018 systematic review of this strategy also found that “educational games play a successful role in terms of both a better understanding of the course content by the students and the participation of the students in this process.”
To help our students learn better in a changing world, it’s important to try out new strategies that are well-adjusted to their upbringing. So, what are the exact benefits that they can enjoy if you implement more game-based learning into your teaching? Let’s take a look.
Aid in problem-solving
Think about all the mini-quests and side challenges that your kids have to solve in their video games. Even though they don’t consider those challenges as directly school-related, they’re learning so much about key decision-making, logic, and problem solving by putting their full effort into the games. It’s those skills that will translate to the outside world as they navigate life beyond school.
Accessible to everyone
The convenience of game-based learning means that it's accessible and adaptable to everyone, no matter what their grade level or location is. Online games can connect students together in a remote setting while physical games can take advantage of the stimulation that physical objects can provide. Students can also play games by themselves if they’re naturally more introverted or enjoy the team-bonding experience that occurs when they work with a group to solve more complex problems.
Fosters motivation and engagement
What seems to be more engaging to learn from — a textbook or an educational game? You and your kids can probably both agree that the latter helps to foster a better learning environment. Even a 2019 research paper supports this fact, referencing how students became more motivated to learn after their teachers added game-based learning elements into their teaching.
Builds critical thinking skills
Students learn best when their brain is actively engaged within a task. That’s exactly what game-based learning does, by allowing students to reflect on their decisions and feel motivated to solve a challenging problem. On the other hand, classic learning activities such as reading a textbook or listening to a lecture are more on the passive side, leading to poor memory retention and critical thinking.
Helps build social skills and team collaboration
Game-based learning isn’t merely just an independent process. After all, when was the last time you played a game solely by yourself?
This teaching method can encourage students to work together and rely on each other’s strengths to progress forward in a problem-solving situation. They begin to learn how to communicate with each other, foster a positive team building environment, and even become closer friends at the same time.
Educational game ideas
Now that you know how game-based learning can contribute toward academic success, you might be curious about the game ideas you can get started with in the classroom or at home with your kids. Here are just a few of the ideas you can explore and creatively transform to align with your course learning objectives.
Math games – Check out Math Playground for some online games in a variety of math subjects or take a look at the in-person math games you can implement in your classroom with a little bit of creativity.
Vocab games – To help your kids build a better vocabulary for communication, you can use Games to Learn English for some online language learning or explore this list of classic fun-person vocab games that you can lead.
Science games – Both Sheppard Software and Science Kids offer an endless amount of science games that your kids can actively partake in. CSUN on the other hand will offer you printable sheets for several in-classroom science games.
History games – To keep your kids informed about the past, don’t hesitate to introduce them to the online history games that School History and Kidadl have compiled together. Whether you’re looking for more general history or history by the stages, both sites have it all.
At the end of the day, game-based learning is only as effective as it is designed. Without the right planning and dedication to ensure that it’s a valuable teaching tool, it can quickly become a source of distraction.
As you design a personalized learning plan for your own students or for your kids at home, think about how you can begin to integrate this effective teaching strategy. Make sure that it never entirely replaces the traditional learning strategies but supplements it in a way to enhance a student’s overall academic experience.
Here at Layvela, we’re all about exploring the newest research-based strategies to increase the quality of your life and the ones that you love. Whether that involves game-based learning or health tips, don’t hesitate to check out more of our posts today.