Whether you’re teaching a class of 8th graders or a seminar at a business company, the struggles you’re facing tend to remain the same. Your job as a teacher is to make sure everyone understands the topic and leaves the room with a bit of extra knowledge that they can further use in their journey.
However, not everyone learns the same. Also, humans have a short attention span, and with so many distractions around, it gets even shorter. While adults may be more motivated and interested in what you have to share, they will turn into a bunch of 8th graders the moment they get bored.
So how do you keep people/kids of any age engaged during a lecture/class?
According to extensive research done in the area in the last few years, game-based learning (GBL) is gaining a lot of traction. From kindergartener to high schoolers to CEOs, the technique gave better results than standard learning, so let’s have a look at how it works.
Game-Based Learning: How it Works?
The best way to exemplify GBL is by studying video games and players.
An article published in the Journal of Learning, Media and Technology shows that video games stimulate the release of dopamine, which helps boost the memory region. As a result, players learn about the stories and events presented in the game world a lot faster and with less effort.
Even more, through games, players of all ages learn about collaboration, effective communication, negotiation, and they get an attitude geared towards problem-solving and exploration. Now, while adults already have most of these skills, the young generations would benefit tremendously from learning them in school.
The good news is that teachers can create specific GBL strategies, depending on the students and their needs.
For instance, if the students are interested in learning about economics and its principle applied in real-life, the teacher can devise a scenario where each student plays the role of a specific economic institution. Each student will receive a set of rules and problems to solve, and they can only interact with each other in the context of the game.
However, the scenario mentioned above won’t offer a real-life simulation. And this is where technology can fill in the gaps! Nowadays there are a series of engaging and motivating games and apps a teacher can use in class to teach all sorts of principles and skills.
Game-Based Learning in Class
The new technologies offer a wide range of options when it comes to GBL, which is why we’re going to mention several examples from different niches.
Platforms for Class Use
These platforms are usually available for free and teachers have some degree of control over the environment they want to create.
A good example of such a game is Prodigy, a GBL online platform for kids grades 1 to 8, that puts a fun spin on math. The game is free to play, and teachers can change the focus of questions and adjust them to address various issues. Even more, teachers can grade a student’s progress in the game, and get reports as graphs or charts.
Another great platform for kids is Funbrain – a platform with games, videos, and texts that allows kids to test their skills in various challenges.
According to studies, games that encourage collaborative work and creativity are fantastic for developing children’s empathy and the so-called soft skills (creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication).
A good example of such a game is Minecraft. This is a sandbox game that allows players to build the world(s) of their dreams using blocks. While the premise is simple, it’s the openness of the game that lures both young and adult players. Some people are so dedicated that they will work for years on creating virtual universes that are unique and beautiful!
Such games encourage children to collaborate and teach them about the power of teamwork and negotiation. It’s also a nice lesson on friendship and commitment.
But there are other great games out there that come with a lesson. For instance, if you want your students to learn more about ancient Rome, recommend them Total War: Rome II. This is one of the many strategy games out there, but it puts a unique spin on the action, by offering a glimpse into the practices and Roman landscape.
While many E-learning platforms are not GBL-oriented, you can create an environment where students must research and learn information using their courses.
For instance, if you’re teaching a business class, you can recommend students who want to have a more in-depth view of the topic an online business course. Given that the information is well-detailed and on topic, these students will have an advantage in the game-based learning environment created by the teacher.
Even though teachers don’t like students using their phones during class, it is difficult to prevent the behavior. So why not give them something constructive to do while on their phone?
Each app store offers a wide variety of apps and games oriented towards education, so we’ll only name a few. For instance, for children who want to learn a second language or have problems keeping up with the class in a second language, we recommend DuoLingo. This is a multi-language platform that can be used in the classroom, but also at home, on mobile devices.
Another cool app to try is Science360 – developed by the National Science Foundation, this app is designed to get kids accustomed to different sciences.
Of course, the list could go on, but each teacher should find the apps, games, and platforms that work best for their students.
The way we learn about the world we live in is slowly changing, but it may take time. This is why the teachers have the responsibility to be the voice of innovation and promote new techniques such as game-based learning in their practice.
If we combine GBL with E-learning, we have the possibility to open the younger generation’s minds to a whole new world, filled with curiosity and wonders!
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