The common perception is that learning games are not suitable for adults because they are thought to offer entertainment rather than aid learning. Adults too tend to think a better way to learn is through classroom lectures or online videos rather than games.
However, this view is changing with research proving that games are more than a distracting force and actually motivate learners and can enhance the learning experience. The instinctive appeal of games and the human tendency to learn better if something is in the form of a game have given an impetus to game-based learning. Added to this, games provide an opportunity to personally discover information and to explore and learn, while overcoming challenges that are part of the game. Let us look at four reasons game-based learning appeals to adults.
1. Positive Implications on learning
In today’s world, learners are expected to find, analyze, and apply information when and where it is required rather than repeat it by rote. Game-based learning facilitates this kind of learning by encouraging learners to solve the problem they present by exploring possible answers. The games draw learners into virtual environments which look and feel familiar to the learners because they can make a connection between their real work and the learning experience. This relevance is essential for adult learning.
When an adult is playing a game as part of a game-based learning course, he has opportunities to try again. This encourages him to keep trying till he wins. In his attempt to win the game, the learner goes through the steps more than once, this reinforces his learning.
2. Improves engagement
Game-based learning encourages the learner to actively engage in the learning process. The involvement in playing the game ensures that the learner is involved in the course.
Elements such as conflict present a challenge to the learner which he has to overcome, this can be a puzzle to be solved, competition with a fellow player, or being pitted against the game itself. This element encourages the player to compete and learn to deal with conflicts in real life.
The element of strategy in these games gives players a sense of control because the decisions they make will affect the course of the game. Similarly, the element of chance puts the player in a reactive mode because they have little control over the outcome.
Such elements in the game make it difficult for learners to disengage from the game. He keeps trying till he succeeds; this tenacity creates the required engagement to learn.
3. Generates motivation
Games offer a stage by stage learning process which motivates the learner. Another motivating factor are the points, scores, and badges he wins as he progresses through the game. This motivates him to move further in the game and work toward the goal of winning the game. He has to take decisions and also experience their consequences when playing the game. But these mistakes do not have any repercussions in real life. The freedom to experiment and make mistakes motivates the learner. This experience gives him practical and easily transferable skills that he can use in a real life situation.
4. Promotes social interaction
Games give learners a chance to interact with each other. When playing an online game with other learners, they get a chance to co-operate in the form of discussions or participate in online forums on the game. They might even assist each other to overcome a challenge. This promotes better collaboration among learners.
Co-operation among learners tends to get all the players involved and immersed in the play and avoids the one winner and many losers approach that adult players do not like. Co-operation among employees will hopefully transfer to real work life as well, something organizations aspire for.
Game-based learning will appeal to adults because it is not about memorizing or learning by rote. It has positive implications on learning, improves engagement, generates motivation, and promotes social interaction. These aspects will appeal to adult learners. Games can actually challenge and engage learners to comprehend and practice new skills. Include game-based learning in your online courses to bring a transformation in how your employees learn.