Using Game-Based Learning To Enhance Your Child’s Education
Guest blog post by Jenna Sherman from parent-leaders.com
As classrooms modernize, one of the most important questions is how technology can be used to engage and educate children. Game-based learning may offer a solution that parents and educators have been seeking. Understanding games as learning tools can help with everything from math to hand-eye coordination to helping navigate the school system.
How Game-Based Learning Works
Using games as educational tools is often thought of as a modern trend for the computer age. However, it is significantly older. For example, chess has been used to teach and practice strategic thinking for centuries and Go, a Chinese strategy game, is even older. Similarly, the concept of kindergarten arose around the idea that play can be a learning experience.
The idea behind game-based learning is that players can learn through repetition, achieving goals and experiencing failure in a safe space. Games already use this concept and other techniques to teach players. In a sense, every game is an educational experience. Game-based learning focuses on using the educational power of games to teach the classroom curriculum.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Games To Learn
Game-based learning can offer students a lot of advantages. The following are a few reasons you should give serious consideration to this valuable tool:
- Engagement: Perhaps the most significant benefit of game-based learning is increased engagement. Games are fun and players are typically more focused and interested compared to traditional educational methods such as lecturing.
- Enhanced Retention: This increased engagement along with the repetitive practice inherent in games leads to greater retention. One study found that games involving risk could improve information retention significantly, leading to better test scores by students.
- Multi-Faceted Learning: Many games teach multiple topics at once. For example, many strategy games include both strategic thinking and math (among other skills). Games also frequently teach hand-eye coordination, as Unyte-iLs explains.
- Contextual Learning: Games apply educational concepts within context. For example, a player may need to use math to calculate the resources he or she needs to expand a base. This is teaching the same skills as a classroom lecture but making them more concrete. Teach & Kids Learn notes evidence suggests that contextual learning can greatly improve educational outcomes.
Of course, game-based learning is not without its drawbacks. Like any other learning tool, it must be used carefully and as part of a cumulative strategy. These are a few key disadvantages:
- Potential Distraction: Perhaps the most significant drawback of game-based learning is the potential to distract students from other learning activities. The engagement of games may make learners more interested in them compared to conventional methods.
- More Research Required: The state of research on learning games is still in its infancy. Many studies have shown that there are plenty of reasons to be excited about educational games. However, there is a lot more to learn about how and when they work best.
Examples of Educational Games
As mentioned above, examples of educational games date back centuries. However, they have grown more advanced and in-depth with the advent of video games. One highly popular option is the educational version of Minecraft. This version of the well-known sandbox game teaches players STEM skills by letting them explore their creativity and build masterful contraptions.
There are numerous games for learning about math. Some of these involve solving math problems to advance through the game. Others take a more subtle approach by having players solve puzzles that require mathematical deduction.
Another option is Civilization V, which is historical in nature. Kids learn about strategy and diplomacy while also getting information about famous leaders of the past.
Set Your Child Up for Success
To get the most benefit from game-based learning, it helps to provide your child with the right equipment. This should include an up-to-date, speedy computer and a sufficiently powerful internet connection such as fiber optics to allow for smoother gameplay and faster downloads—which is also important for streaming educational videos.
Engaging kids with electronics is easy, so it makes sense to put those gadgets to work in their education. The right choices along with children’s interest in the medium can be a perfect combination for youngsters to blossom.
Discover more about game-based learning and helping navigate the school system with Demystifying Education’s resources. With the right games and resources, you can set your child up for lasting success.