Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

Fun – A Prerequisite for Learning Games

With a great title: “Fun – A Prerequisite for Learning Games”, this publication intends to demonstrate how to add fun elements into learning games, especially mobile learning games are important since tablets and smart phones are getting prevailing.

Hannak, C., Pilz, M. & Ebner, M. (2012). Fun – A Prerequisite for Learning Games. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2012 (pp. 1292-1299). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. (get the document here)

Mobile games are booming. On average, every child in Central Europe aged 15 years has a mobile phone on his/her own today. If a closer look is taken, it can be pointed out that children mainly own a smart phone running on iOS or Android operating systems. With other words, the youth carry very strong and powerful devices in their pockets, which can and should be used for educational purposes too. In this publication we like to introduce a new mobile game basing on the old traditional concept of learning cards but in a new innovative and more collaborating variant. The first prototype is presented that has been tested by a number of students and educators. It can be shown that the game is motivating and engaging. Furthermore an occurring incidental learning effect can be carried out, which leads to the assumption that mobile games can play an important role for the future of education and it makes simply fun.

The goal of the game called “Smartass” is to seamlessly integrate e-learning into the social and mobile everyday life of students. This game was implemented as a distributed, asynchronous, fast-paced trivia game so as to take advantage of the general popularity and motivation of participating in quiz shows, pubquizzes, and playing trivia games (Holzinger A., Pichler A., Maurer H. 2001). It is known that people actually unintentionally learn through playing trivia games (Holzinger A. 1999). Different from common games in the e-learning field,”Smartass” focuses even more on game mechanics and competition character, partially based on the game”You don’t know Jack”. Game mechanics such as duel mode, GPS-based mode and Jokers are added. Jokers are the most important game mechanics in this game. They can be regarded as a way of countering the opponent with exciting obstacles to enhance the competition amongst the two competitors. Jokers can be bought with credits earned through level-ups and achievements. Thus, the desire to create a greater challenge for their opponents with the use of jokers would be a motivation for users to play and enhance their learning more.

Fun – A Prerequisite for Learning Games

View more presentations from Martin Ebner

Zondle is also an option you should know more when you want to turn course assignments or tests into question-and-answer games.  The policy ‘Zondle is FREE ,and always will be!’ is something every teacher wishes. Recently Zondle is making its apps available on most devices from iPads to Androids tablets. It offers hundreds of combinations of topics and games which can be mix-matched as you like. You can create your games with your own content.  This post “Why I Love and Use Zondle in the Classroom” speaks to educators! The point is : The students love it! Who wouldn’t rather play a game of 10 questions verse  a worksheet!

game-based learning, mobile learning, BYOD

For question-and-answer type learning games, another developer Root-1 has also just launches OpenMinds – a free platform that allows teachers to customize education apps with their own designed questions instantly. Teachers can choose pre-loaded content, or, upload their own content. The content is then instantly available in selected apps for students to use. Students use the apps to learn and master the underlying content at their own pace, optimized to their learning level and style. The platform will be open for other developers to create games for sharing, or create customized user interface.

game-based learning, learning games

With fun in the learning games that engage learners, what teachers can collect is the reporting and student statistics from the backend. The teaching backend featuring class statistics provides the possibility to instantly review single students’ performance. In other words, when students struggle with a topic, teachers can adjust the course depth and the way being taught for whole class or for individuals. And, adaptive pace and path are generated for different students while they are playing. Like what Root-1 pointed out that “adaptive engine” is what they are proud for. An adaptive learning environment for every learner is the goal of game-based learning.


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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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