Reflection (660 Words)
Learning through play is not a new concept to me; studying Piaget and Vygotsky in my undergraduate Early Childhood Education degree is what sold learning through play to me, at least for children birth to eight years. What this course has opened up to me more than ever is the benefits of learning through play – firstly in digital environments (not really part of my studies twenty years ago) and secondly for older students and adult learners. Additionally, computers and digital gaming consoles are not new to me. As I wrote on the forum, I grew up in a house with a computer from about the age of three in the early 80s, and live with a web-developer, so I am well acquainted with digital technologies (Parnell, 2019a).
Game Based Learning is theoretically appropriate for all ages, although the method really sings when used for older learners who benefit from the challenging tasks and world building offered, in a way that is difficult (or impossible) and expensive to reproduce as a hands on task. Medical students can practice surgical procedures in a risk-free virtual environment, forklift drivers can practice safety procedures where no property can get damaged and, as I explored in Assessment Two, students can play with the orbit and tilt of a planet to examine the effects, without risking the lives and safety of billions of people.
Digital Game Based Learning (DGBL) is a proven way to increase student engagement (Woo, 2014; Pereira de Aguiar, Winn, Cezarotto, Battaiola, & Varella Gomes, 2018), improves problem-solving skills (Tsekleves, Cosmas, & Aggoun, 2016), aids in memory retention and retrieval (Jean, 2019) and encourages students to pursue further study in subjects that incorporate it (Dobrescu, Holden, Motta & Wong, 2019). Recent studies suggest that group or team DGBL increases students ability to achieve a flow state (Chan, Leung, & Kung 2019) and improves students’ teamwork and communication skills (Boikou, 2019).
However, the creation of DGBL environments is time consuming for teachers (Dondlinger & McLeod, 2015) and generally cost-prohibitive to purchase, unless the environment is going to be used across an entire school or school system. Some examples of successful implementation of DGBL include World of Warcraft (Fletcher, Emadi-Coffin, & Hetherington, 2016) and Minecraft Education Edition (Stuckey, 2018) however these out of the box, commercial applications still require teacher expertise to successfully create meaningful learning experiences within the DGBL environment. Depending on the teacher’s own level of digital literacy, which isn’t always proficient (Urbani, Roshandel, Michaels & Truesdell, 2017), the time investment required to implement DGBL may be too great. Even teachers who have been part of fully funded projects to bring digital media into the classroom failed to continue its implementation once the project was over, citing a lack of both time and money to continue the implementation of this type of learning (Share, 2009).
The single most important issue that has me sold on game based learning is the “safety” aspect (Parnell, 2019b). In a game, unlike in an exam, failure is fine, and most definitely expected (McGonigal, 2012). In fact “games are all about exploration in a safe space” (Extra Credits, 2016, timestamp 6:30). Karl Kapp, a renowned author and speaker on GBL, says a student’s ability to explore and experiment in a safe environment with no penalties for mistakes is really important for learning (Learning News, 2019). We know from Maslow’s (1943) Hierarchy of Needs that students aren’t ready to learn if their safety needs aren’t met. In addition, if students are in a classroom situation where they feel especially safe, they are more able to learn. If students feel they are in a safe place where failure is not only possible but an expected part of the learning experience, they will flourish and take learning risks they never would have been willing to take before.
I hope to take what I have learned about GBL into my casual teaching and any library or teaching positions I hold in the future.
Boikou, Α.G. (2019). Game based learning’s impact in learning achievement: a systematic review. Retrieved from https://dspace.lib.uom.gr/bitstream/2159/22815/4/BoikouAndromachiMsc2019.pdf
Chan, C. K., Leung, H. M., & Kung, M. W. (2019). Understanding the Effect of Gamification of Learning Using Flow Theory. In Shaping the Future of Education, Communication and Technology (pp. 3-14). Springer, Singapore.
Dobrescu, L., Holden, R., Motta, A., & Wong, C. (2019). Fun in education. SSRN 2772371. Retrieved from https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2772371
Extra Credits (2016, Dec 7) Because games matter – A better vision – Extra credits. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6xz58O4xq8&list=PLhyKYa0YJ_5AgQCI0R7DY0BDrRLmRjkpw
Fletcher, B., Emadi-Coffin, B., & Hetherington, J. (2016). Massive Multiplayer Online Games Communities: Lessons for Diversity in School Classrooms.
Jean, P. H. (2019). Brain-based and learning theories: Application of theories in the classroom. European Journal of Education Studies. 5(12). Retrieved from https://oapub.org/edu/index.php/ejes/index
Learning News (2019, April) ‘Stop thinking like an instructional designer – start thinking like a game designer’ – Karl Kapp, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, explains how learning can benefit from the techniques used in game design in an in-depth interview with Learning News at LT19uk. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6522506428660408320/
Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological review, 50(4), 370.
McGonigal, J. (2012). Reality is broken: Why games make us better and how they can change the world. Vintage: London.
Parnell, E. (2019a) https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_39861_1&conf_id=_76364_1&forum_id=_151971_1&message_id=_2140623_1&nav=discussion_board_entry
Parnell, E. (2019b) Module 3.2 Games are all about… Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_39861_1&conf_id=_76364_1&forum_id=_151976_1&message_id=_2195414_1&nav=discussion_board_entry
Pereira de Aguiar M., Winn B., Cezarotto M., Battaiola A.L., Varella Gomes P. (2018) Educational Digital Games: A Theoretical Framework About Design Models, Learning Theories and User Experience. In: Marcus A., Wang W. (eds) Design, User Experience, and Usability: Theory and Practice. DUXU 2018. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 10918. Springer, Cham
Share, J. (2009) Voices from the trenches: Elementary school teachers speak about implementing media literacy. In Tyner, K. (Ed.). (2009). Media literacy : New agendas in communication. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Stuckey, B. (2018) Minecraft: Education Edition. Pathways across the Australian curriculum. [pdf file] Retrieved from https://education.minecraft.net/wp-content/uploads/Australian-Minecraft-Curriculum-.pdf
Tsekleves, E., Cosmas, J., & Aggoun, A. (2016). Benefits, barriers and guideline recommendations for the implementation of serious games in education for stakeholders and policymakers. British Journal of Educational Technology, 47(1), 164-183.
Urbani, J. M., Roshandel, S., Michaels, R., & Truesdell, E. (2017). Developing and Modeling 21st-Century Skills with Preservice Teachers. Teacher Education Quarterly, 44(4), 27+. Retrieved from http:// link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/apps/doc/A511004847/EAIM? u=csu_au&sid=EAIM&xid=80b0979a
Woo, J. C. (2014). Digital game-based learning supports student motivation, cognitive success, and performance outcomes. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 17(3), 291-307.