Game-based Learning – The Basics

With learners demanding an engaging experience in e-learning, training managers and learning designers are inclined to use learning strategies that will engage the learner in the learning process and give better learning outcomes. One popular method is the use of game-based learning. Let us understand what game based learning is.

Game-based learning involves incorporating or weaving the content of the course in the form of a game so that learners can learn through gameplay. Games are used for teaching a specific skill or achieving a learning outcome. The motive is to improve the ability of the player to retain and apply the skill or learning outcome he has learned through the game in the real world. These are some facets of game-based learning.

The general misconception is that games as an instructional strategy are preferred by millennial learners, but the truth is, it is a favorite of a wide section of learners including senior employees. The differentiating factor would be the kind of games they prefer. When designing game-based learning, it is crucial to know the profile of your target audience.

The competitive and interactive elements in games help learners to have fun while playing the game and at the same time gain knowledge. This is an important benefit of game-based learning. There are three main elements in game-based learning that make it click.

1. Competition

The element of competition in game-based learning can be against other players or the game itself. When competing with other learners, scores or points motivate the learner to try and outdo other players. Sometimes the competition can be against the game itself, where the player tries to gain the highest score. These competitive elements provide the motivation for learners who may find it lacking in normal learning methods.

2. Engagement

Playing games engages the curiosity and imagination of learners. Elements such as curiosity, control, and fantasy get the learners completely involved in the game. The interactive elements in the game also contribute to learner engagement.

3. Immediate Rewards

The immediate rewards that players receive after playing the game, which include telling them they are right or giving out certificates or points motivates them to complete the game and learn in the process.

  • Game-based learning motivates learners to work toward a goal, choose their actions, and experience the consequences.
  • It allows learners to make mistakes in a risk-free setting and helps them learn and practice the right way to do things through experimentation.

This keeps learners engaged in practicing behaviors and thought processes which they can transfer from the simulated game environment to real life.

Game-based learning works on the constructivist principle of learning which provides learners the tools to build their own procedures to solve a problem. This takes e-learning to the next level. In game-based learning, the tools are the games and the way learners play the game helps them to solve problems.

Apart from this, playing games allows learners to gain knowledge through practice (the number of times they play the game) and through social interaction, both with the environment and with their peers.

Game-based learning puts learners in situations where they need to reflect and take decisions to solve a problem. This helps them gain knowledge and absorb concepts while developing critical thinking skills.

Games promote creativity among learners. They must think of new ways to solve problems posed in the games. Games also improve their risk assessment and risk-taking skills because they will have to take risks to go to the next step or solve a problem.

 More organizations are adopting game-based learning for various reasons that include its ability to make learners use multiple skills for learning (logical, intrapersonal, and kinesthetic). They provide an immersive learning experience and are engaging and motivating.

Game-based learning is being increasingly adopted in training for its ability to reinforce key messages in existing training programs, improve participation of learners, the fun element it provides, and its appeal to a multigenerational workforce. Organizations are looking at getting a good start in game-based learning.

A game-based learning program is more likely to succeed than a conventional e-learning program because of the appeal of games. Knowledge retention is also likely to be higher compared to traditional methods of training. What do you think? Do share your views.

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