The idea of using games in learning goes back as far as the constructivist approach given by Jean Piaget. According to this, learning serves as a process in which learner takes active part by constructing new ideas based on past or current knowledge.
Using games in learning provides the following benefits:
- Opportunity to learn from mistakes in a simulated and safe environment
- Enables learning new technique to achieve a particular outcome
- An engaging method which keeps learners motivated by offering constant challenges
How to benefit from game based e-learning:
- Design game keeping in mind learning outcome:
There exist several types of games: puzzles, adventure games, board games etc. The key is to design a game suited to the learning outcome. For e.g., a salesman who needs to learn how to deal with customers will benefit from a role-play game.
- Game skills must be transferable to real environment:
During a game, if player gets a positive outcome through a particular move or skill, he will use it again in the game. Thus, this skill will become internalized and it will become easy to transfer this skill to the real-life environment where it is useful. In sum, it will become a repetitive behaviour transferable to his workplace.
- Design game according to proven instructional strategies:
There are some proven strategies for effective instruction. Some of them are: Using graphics along with texts in learning content, Demonstrating procedures instead of merely listing them, self-assessment of learning by learners instead of a typical final exam and using scenarios easily transferable to real life. Other strategies include meaningful feedback and self-explanatory questions. The key is to make learning interactive.
- Guide learner towards goals:
Like in the case of most games, players in e-learning games (learners) need to understand the value of particular game outcomes. Or else, it will kill the motivation of the players. The goal of each step must be explained to him and what the reward will be. For this you can use different methods like a talking character or some text matter on the screen.
- The game must be engaging:
The background and the storyline of the game must be engaging. If the aim is to replicate a work scenario, the game must be coherent. The scenario must replicate real life if the aim is to transfer skills. You will also get better results if the gamer is included as part of the story line rather than simply controlling characters. In sum, learners must have active part in the game, especially for use of e-learning in education.
- The game must be reasonably challenging:
While designing the game, one must strike a balance between difficulty and simplicity. You can increase the difficulty gradually with every level of the game. In the beginning, player needs to get used to the game but afterwards he is looking for more and more challenges. But the challenges must be reasonable lest gamer loses interest in game.
These are some tips to use game based learning in e-learning.