In the great debate on game based learning v gamification, people often ask me what is the best approach, when you’re trying to create true student engagement, and motivate kids to drive their own learning?
How is it that my kids know all 150 types of blocks in Minecraft, but can’t remember a simple list given for homework?
Let’s imagine a teacher was trying to teach these Minecraft blocks to a class.
In a traditional method, the teacher gives the list, gets students to write it out, revise and take a test. The result, some remember some of the knowledge for the test, but it’s completely gone within a month.
A gamified approach might mean the teacher applies a heap of extrinsic motivators to a similar activity. This might be a points system, coins, levels or badges. These points might help them progress through a map or open up some separate reward. You can think of it as traditional activities with a game layer over the top. The result, kids are more engaged and retain the information more effectively than a traditional method… but it can be done much more effectively.
Well, this is where the desired content or concept is within the strategy of the game itself. The learning experience is interweaved seamlessly within the games framework. Kids don’t even know they’re learning. The result, kids are more engaged, they drive their own learning, and retention far exceeds that of the traditional and gamified alternatives. My kids learning Minecraft blocks would be an example of this.
The answer lies in the science of teaching and learning. And here’s why Game-based learning is next level.
As you look at the list, you’ll notice that these are actually all great teaching practices. Teachers strive for these in their classrooms each and every day.
There are any number of cool math games available on the app store, but true game based learning uses all of the principles above. These are the exact principles we built Number Hive around. Students need to reason with multiplication facts as part of the strategy of the game. They learn key foundational skills without knowing it, they think they’re just having fun! (You can find our more about Number Hive’s unique approach by clicking here)
The good news is, many teachers across the world have mastered game-based learning. And in our collaborative world, many are willing to share these games. Social media is a great place to start. In the comments, jot down any channels you have found helpful.
You can also create your own games, or tweak games you already know. Start with the concept you need to teach, and then think how you might build that into a game scenario or tweak other games to fit.
Take a risk, have some fun as you learn. Game on!