Game-based learning might hold the key to a better education system

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Game-based learning is a growing trend in education, allowing students to learn in a fun and engaging way.

  • Game-based learning is gaining traction
  • Videogames break all the boundaries: virtual tours and experiencing ancient cultures
  • Students can learn math in a fun and innovative way: nothing is boring about numbers
  • Education of tomorrow is engaging, efficient, and prepares students for the future

Most countries haven’t changed their education in decades. As a result, a large number of the young workforce must undergo additional training and education to meet ever-growing standards of the labour market. However, rapid technological advancements demand that the workforce today is fluent in new technologies. This means that education systems need to be agile and at a high level of preparedness to adapt to changes and adjust curricula accordingly. Also, some teachers find it difficult to deliver their lessons effectively when attempting to teach ‘the new’ while using old methods. Tech-savvy generations require a different approach in teaching that’s more effective, engaging, and attention-grabbing. To achieve this, teachers are implementing a more engaging approach to acquiring knowledge – game-based learning. 

Game-based learning is gaining traction

The latest estimates show that the number of video gamers will hit 3 billion by 2023. Mat Piscatella, games industry analyst at The NPD Group noted that young consumers are also driving up the gaming market. “Kids are becoming a more influential part of the gaming marketplace thanks to games such as Fortnite and Minecraft, assisted by the growing influence of YouTube and Twitch. More than one-third of kids are spending more time playing video games than they were a year ago, while well over 20 percent are also spending more.” And while some criticise this habit, others have taken a different approach, and gamification in education is gaining traction. In essence, gamification means adding elements of video games in non-game situations or content where users, students in this case, are encouraged to use available tools to improve their problem-solving skills and sharpen their critical thinking. Given all the benefits gamification brings to a teaching and learning process, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the global gamification education market value is set to reach $1.8 trillion by 2024, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 32 per cent. The market value will surely show no signs of dropping down, driven by the increasing adoption of digital learning, cutting-edge technologies introduced in a teaching process, and easy setup and customisation depending on the teaching material and students’ age and learning preferences.

Videogames break all the boundaries: virtual tours and experiencing ancient cultures

The Coronavirus outbreak has affected the education sector as well, leaving nearly 1.6 billion students out of schools. According to a new World Bank report,  estimates indicate that the pandemic has caused a loss of $10 trillion for this generation of students, consequently driving countries off-track “to achieving their Learning Poverty goals” and improving their education systems. Experts such as Annette Dixon, World Bank Vice President for Human Development, warn that without prompt changes, the damage could be irreversible. “Not being able to attend school impacts children in many ways: children don’t have an opportunity to learn … Without rapid, decisive, and coordinated action, the crisis threatens to pose a huge setback to hard-won gains in human capital, irreversibly damaging the lifelong opportunities of millions of children.” One of the first steps that could be taken is the digitalisation of education, better connectedness, and revamping the way knowledge is transmitted. Adapting the new and turning to cutting-edge alternatives could yield better results and prepare students for the future.

One simple yet effective way of providing high-quality education even during the pandemic is with the help of videogames. For instance, high school students from Collège Saint-Hilaire, Montreal, planned a trip to Greece where they would visit “historical sites like the Parthenon and record their observations for a project they would later share with their classmates.” The pandemics happened and the trip was cancelled leaving students disappointed. Kevin Péloquin, a history teacher, luckily, found a brilliant alternative. He dived into the world of videogames and chose “Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey”, a popular video game, that’s not only action-packed, but also offers education mode and detailed recreation of ancient Greece. The company behind the video game, Ubisoft, works with historians so the storyline and settings are as accurate as possible. This way it can be used as a cool educational tool that students would gladly use. Etienne Allonier, brand director for Assassin’s Creed, said that the company recognised the potential of the game. Besides being fun to play, it is also a well of knowledge. “We had several teachers who started contacting us after Assassin’s Creed 1 and Assassin’s Creed 2. And since then, based on that feedback, we saw there was a potential of using everything we created for the games, to use that for education purposes.”

Students can learn math in a fun and innovative way: nothing is boring about numbers

Learning math can be a challenge and traditional teaching methods that involve a piece of chalk, blackboard, and tons of homework sure doesn’t sound fun. But thanks to innovative people, digitalisation, and tech-savvy students who are fluent in various technologies from an early age might find new approaches to learning ‘difficult and not so exciting subjects’ such as math quite refreshing and efficient. For instance, Prodigy, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG),  is developed to keep students engaged. The game content is designed in such a way that is challenging enough to keep students working on developing new skills and “Intuitive enough to drop them back to prerequisite skills when it detects a student is struggling in a specific area.” And according to a study that was examining adaptive gamification in math learning focusing on young learners it was found that while gamification itself doesn’t guarantee success in math learning, it is game elements that are carefully designed that matter the most. “Although the highest performance levels appeared in conjunction with the most incorrect attempts by the students, the total number of correct attempts was unaffected. Our findings suggest that whether gamification works or not is not the result of individual game elements but rather the consequence of their balanced combination.”

Education of tomorrow is engaging, efficient, and prepares students for the future

The future of work is likely to be different than today. The changing labour market also means that current education systems need to evolve as well. Teachers need to find a way to help children develop 21st-century skills, such as critical thinking and collaboration, which will help them prepare for heavy-duty tasks in an increasingly complex world. A simple yet ingenious way to help students improve their skills and acquire knowledge in a more engaging and fun way is to use video games and game design elements. Modern times require modern means, and in a digital age, traditional educational methods need an upgrade. It’s high time schools abandoned dated methods, and let education thrive.

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