I will use this space to reflect on the ebook Play This, Learn That, which can be found at this link. After each chapter, I will share some of my thoughts and musings about the ideas presented.
There are three different types of games that categorize game-based learning: serious games, gamification, and commercial games.
- First, serious games are those created with the intent to teach or cultivate learning. The popular 1970s Oregon Trail game is an example of this because its job is to simulate to students what life is like on the Oregon Trail.
- Another type of game-based learning is gamification, which is simply turning a regular learning activity into a game by adding points, quests, awards, or levels. In this way, engagement is increased because the mastery is connected to fun, competitive work. An example of this in my classroom is Reflex Math, which I use to help my students master their math facts. They play games and race to the green light earning fact fluency as they play games.
- Finally, there are commercial games. These are traditional games that are sold purely to entertain. To make these appropriate to the classroom, they need to be modified. For example, my students play a game similar to the card game War, but I change the rules to have students also gain multiplication fact fluency.
Why use commercial games in the classroom?
- Comfort- Connects learning to something students enjoy and are familiar with. If students are comfortable with the platform, then they can more easily approach unfamiliar content. Framing learning within a game allows students to access materials because they are excited about the games they play already!
- Engagement- Students love playing games. Games are fun. By playing games, they tap into their imagination and creativity and have a space to play and learn simultaneously.
- Motivation- Kids that are excited about and having fun playing games are more likely to play and thus engage in the learning that accompanies the game.
- Competition- Students are able to compete against themselves and their peers to earn higher scores and receive instant feedback. Games provide for multiple learning opportunities, so as students acquire more knowledge skills they can perform better.