Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

A Framework for Designing Instructional Games


from A KNOWLEDGE PLATFORM WHITEPAPER – 2008

Abstract

In the last few years, there has been a lot of excitement about games in E-Learning. While everyone understands the concept of games (didn’t we all grow up playing games?), we see different interpretations of the word games when used in the context of E-Learning. The attempt in this paper is to demystify the concept of instructional games and provide a framework and taxonomy that will help designers design games for E-Learning courseware.

Introduction

In the last few years, there has been a lot of excitement about games in E-Learning. While everyone understands the concept of games (didn’t all of us grow up playing games?), we see different interpretations of the word games when used in the context of E-Learning. The attempt in this paper is to demystify the concept of instructional games and provide a framework and taxonomy that will help designers design games for E-Learning courseware. We also hope that this framework and taxonomy will help our clients select the type of game that works best for their needs.

Instructional Game: A Definition

Games, when used appropriately, provide an excellent learning aid. Games can help clarify abstract and difficult concepts, provide a fun way to practice what is learned, and provide the variability that is so necessary for holding attention. In short, games serve a two-fold purpose in the learning process.

  • Learning and Understanding: Using games to teach helps learners practice essential formulas, facts and processes. Games can be used as a strategy to apply what the learners have learned. Games can also be used to address topics that learners have difficulty grasping.
  • Motivation: Lack of interest in a topic or subject leads to a lack of motivation. Using games to teach such topics can make the topics more interesting, and adds a fun element to the learning process.

In this paper, we use the term instructional game to imply an activity that is embedded in any learning material for the purpose of enhancing the teaching-learning process and motivating the learner to go through the learning material.

Structure of an Instructional Game

Think about any game you have enjoyed playing. It must have had some ultimate goal, some way to keep score, some rules to constrain the game, some type of difficulty or challenge and some strategy element to increase your chances of winning.

Just like games have certain attributes, we can also identify specific attributes of instructional games. These are as follows.

  • Score: This is the element of winning or losing. It is the core of any game, including the instructional game.
  • Strategy: This element has a direct bearing on the score. If built into an instructional game, it allows the learner to manipulate the game so as to maximize his/her score. This element can be designed in the form of bonus points, rewards etc.
  • Message: This element has a direct bearing on the learning objective of the learning material. In other words, if the game is designed to communicate a concept to the learner, we can say that it has a message component.

game-based learning

The Framework

Using the above structure as the base for instructional games, we can identify four types of games that are included in E-Learning. These types can be identified in the figure below.

game-based learning

For examples and analysis about each type of games, read the paper here : games_framework.

About Knowledge Platform

Knowledge Platform was established in early 2000 with has offices in Singapore, Tokyo, Delhi and Islamabad. By providing services such as E-Learning Content, Instructional Design, Training Solutions, and E-Learning Technology Solutions, Knowledge Platform helps its clients to increase their learning efficiency. Knowledge Platform has a rapidly growing, blue chip enterprise, banking, educational, and government sector client base.

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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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