In 2011 the Victorian Dept of Education and Early Childhood Development invited 40 schools to participate in games based learning research trials to investigate the impact that serious games, virtual worlds and game development can have when incorporated into target areas of the curriculum. A mixed method approach to this evaluation resulted in an extensive range of data collected from principals, teachers and students across all schools. More focused studies were also conducted in selected schools.
Overall the results were positive with key findings :
- Game-based activity is effective when embedded within curriculum and supported by directed learning principles and goals.
- Game-based learning empowers students to build essential skills such as problem solving, decision making, communication, collaboration, negotiation, team work, creativity, leadership, and critical thinking. Eighty-seven per cent of the teachers involved in the research found that as a result of games-based learning, students took a greater responsibility for their own work as it fostered an environment for inquiry based learning and problem solving strategies.
- Collaborative learning increased substantially across the three game strands. In many cases the classrooms were changing towards a ‘community of inquiry and collaboration’.
- Game-based learning transformed the classroom dynamic. The teachers became the facilitators of the learning and the students were empowered by becoming the game experts. In this environment both students and teachers learnt together.
- Peer to peer teaching was significantly strengthened as was peer to peer learning among the students.
- Games positively transformed teaching and learning processes and outcomes. Playing games can be about taking risks and many teachers noted that the mindset of students had changed. They were not looking for the answers but they were taking risks with their learning process in a more open-ended problem solving environment without explicit instruction.
- 83% of teachers who participated in the project survey strongly agreed that there is a strong alignment between games-based learning activities and outcomes, and the six DEECD Principles of Teaching and Learning (POLT).
- Games-based activities provided authentic learning opportunities that linked to real life experiences. This provided both students and teachers with unique teaching and learning opportunities. This led to a significant increase in motivation, confidence and commitment from students to their learning.
- All teachers participating in the trials are committed to continuing games-based learning into 2012 and aim to extend this to different class groups and VELS domains. They believe that participation in the 2011 IWT Games-based Learning trials has provided them with a new insight into effective teaching and learning and has changed the way that they will teach in the future.
Maybe the findings don’t surprise you, the major value of this research is to inform school practices of game-based learning. The research report can be downloaded here.
According to this post, Ms Barr, who was named most outstanding primary school teacher at last year’s Victorian Education Excellence Awards, devotes 20 per cent of class time to games-based learning. She embeds games into every part of the curriculum, for example, using Lure of the Labyrinth – an online puzzle game from MIT Education Arcade for math classes, and using Super Scribblenauts on Nintendo DS for writing classes – students must use right adjectives to clearly describe the nouns to defeat monsters
Good games will make learning inherent in it, skills are developed as they are needed in gameplay.
photo credit: shinnfean via photo pin cc