When Einstein said, “Games are the most elevated form of investigation“, nobody had an idea he was hinting atits unparalleled power to revolutionize learning. Most of us play games on our Smartphones because they are fun and exciting and make time pass by swiftly. Learning designers have cashed in on this trend and now, game-based learning has become a crucial part of how we acquire knowledge today. Game elements are incorporated seamlessly into mobile learning (bite-sized learning modules) because it is fun, helps learners learn faster, and retain more information.
But there are some important elements a course should have. How effectively you integrate them in your courses is crucial to mastering the art of developing good game-based mobile learning. In this blog, we will look at each of these elements in detail.
1. Begin with an eye-catching intro page
This may sound like common sense but having a good introduction page is CRUCIAL as it sets the whole theme of the game and gives you a chance to establish a good first impression in your learner’s mind.
A good logo reflects the main idea behind your game. For example, when you look at Trivia Time’s intro page (image below), the colorful pawns and dices give you an indication that it is going to be a board game. Although you haven’t started the game yet, you have a preconceived notion of what the game is and what it is going to be about.
Having a great logo will grab your learner’s attention within seconds of him seeing the intro page. This builds up the learner’s curiosity to play and learn – right from the beginning.
2. Provide Instructional Support
Most game-based courses involve having learners getting to know the instructions/rules before they start playing the game.Learners without proper, explicit instructions in a game will learn to play the game rather than learning domain-specific knowledge embedded in the game. A dedicated instructions page with appropriate guidelines is essential to assist learners understand what they need to do/achieve and how to go about playing the game.
A lot of learners prefer going through an instructions page, before starting the game, to better grasp the mechanics of the scoring system (in order to score higher points). You can see below an example image of the guidelines and rules – an image accompanying the text.
3. Have a Game Board
“A board game is a tabletop game that involves counters or pieces moved or placed on a pre-marked surface or “board”, according to a set of rules.”
If the intro and instructions comprise the body of your game, then a game board is its heart. A game board is what essentially makes a game. Your game objective takes actual shape on the game board.
Below is Trivia Time’s game board where each block represents a stage of the game. To begin with, the learner rolls the dice (placed at the bottom right) and then the pawn moves forward as per the number on the dice, and prompts the user with a message on the screen asking him to either draw a card from the right side to display a question or roll the dice again.
Note that the board has a Start(top left) and a Finish, allowing the learner openly see how he is progressing. A wrong answer will keep him in the same block, halting his progress. This is a great way of approaching game-based learning where learners are always on their toes, while playing the game.
4. Have assessments at each level
Once you have the learning objective established, take the learner through a series of assessments. If your game consists of levels, you may have assessments after each level (also called Formative Assessments), and award points accordingly.
Assessments are an essential part of your game because they enable learners evaluate the overall knowledge they have acquired. You can implement these assessments in the form of the multiple choice questions (MCQs) (which is the most preferred), true/false statements, and the like..
Here’s an image showing the execution of MCQs in Trivia Time. Note that this is only one format of presenting questions. You can always use drag and drop, or drag and match to make them more engaging and still obtain good results. Additionally, you can add motivating lines such as “There are only two more questions to go” or “This is a bonus question which will fetch you 500 points“, when learners are about to attempt a question.
5. Provide Rapid Feedback
Feedback is one aspect of your game that can enhance the learning process, in that it reinforces learning. For example, in Trivia Time when you have a go at a particular question, you will receive feedback regardless of whether your answer is correct or not – feedback explains why the answer is correct or incorect.
Feedback does not have to be limited to just providing information on the answers; it can be used to convey essential information regarding the learner’s progress. Suppose a learner has to consecutively answer three questions correctly in order to cross a level and beat the current high score, you can let him know this by displaying a message “Win this game to beat the high score“.
When you provide feedback instantly instead of waiting until they complete the game, they can see where they went wrong and correct themselves immediately.
By incorporating these five elements in your games, you not only allow learners to be more engaged and prepared, but also knowledgeable regarding what they are learning.