Whilst undertaking this subject I was given the ideal opportunity to examine the field of Digital Game Based learning and its effectiveness within an educational context. Before embarking on my studies for this subject the impression I had mistakenly adopted about using digital games in the classroom was misleading and false. Digital games were in my eyes, gimmicky and used only to attract a student’s preliminary attention during a lesson. This inaccurate intuition was built from my own personal experiences using 1980 versions of ‘educational games’ when I was at school; which in my eyes were clunky and a waste of precious learning time. My personal ‘lightbulb’ moment that changed my approach to the notion of Digital Game Based Leaning (DGBL) was after reading Van Eck’s (2006) ‘Digital Game- Based Learning- It’s Not Just the Digital Natives Who Are Restless’ where he proposed that the educational games of the past couple of decades were unfortunately designed by academics who were oblivious to the importance of game design in their approach to integrating this sort of tool within teaching practices; leading to games that were academically sound but lacked the thrill and excitement that other entertainment based games were brimming in. With further reading and analysis during this study of INF541, the shallow perspectives I had initially employed had gradually and fortunately faded and I began to realise the ultimate power of using such forms of relevant technology within the construct of a lesson.
One outcome in my new found findings for this subject has been in the overarching importance of learning through ‘play’. Through history the human race has learnt effectively through the use of play associated with trial and error. Huizinga (1955) stated that games, play and learning have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship through recorded history. The effective use and incorporation of Digital Game Based Leaning (DGBL) into pedagogy helps to encourage play; which if implemented suitably fosters applicable learning. Koster (2005) also proposes that playing games is an essential part of the ‘evolving human learning experience’. During the situational analysis that I conducted on the effectiveness of DGBL in comparison to traditional forms of teaching, it became apparent that the more ‘play’ time given to the students of this study, the more motivated they were in achieving success in their ‘game play influenced’ learning.
These notions then lead on to my realisation in the importance of DGBL and student motivation. It comes with no surprise that DGBL works in favour for assisting students’ motivation levels during learning. Oblinger (2004) states that ‘Games also offer advantages in terms of motivation. Often times students are motivated to learn material (e.g., mythology or math) when it is required for successful game play – that same material might otherwise be considered tedious.’ (Oblinger, p 13.) I agree with the above observation as in my experience, students are generally more motivated to learn about a topic through a game play experience rather than to cover within a core textbook due to its non-static nature. A games ability to provide the player with a set of unpredictable variables consequently keeps the learning dynamically constant and non-stagnant; which exclusive traditional forms of teaching in some case do not provide.
Another benefit to take from my learning experience in the use of DGBL is in its ability to be non-discriminatory; effectively used by all levels of skill in a classroom. Due to the highly flexible and pliable nature of games; if prepared properly can suit any learning capacity. Fuscard (2001) proposes that games can ‘reduce the gap between quicker and slower learners’; making relevant DGBL a great teaching tool to help moderate teaching approaches in order to accommodate for multiple types of intelligences within a classroom.
This learning experience has been a very instrumental one for me personally and has changed the way I prepare and design my lessons. The experience I’ve taken from this subject is in the power of digital game play and how if used appropriately can be a tool that effectively not only motivates students to learn, but encourages real world thinking and collaborative problem solving to real world challenges; in some instances far more successfully than traditional based learning ever could.
- Huizinga, J (1955) Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play- Element in Culture. Beacon Press, Boston, USA.
- Koster, R. (2005). A Theory of Fun for Game Design. Scottsdale, Arizona: Paragylph Press
- Oblinger, D. (2004). The next generation of educational engagement. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 8.
- Fuszard, B. (2001) Gaming. IN LOWENSTEIN, A. J., BRADSHAW, M. J. & FUSZARD, B. (Eds.) Fuszard’s innovative teaching strategies in nursing. 3rd ed. Gaithersburg, MD, Aspen Publishe
- Van Eck, Richard. (2006). Digital game-based learning: It’s not just the digital natives who are restless. EDUCAUSE Review, (20), 16-18.http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/digital-game-based-learning-its-not-just-digital-natives-who-are-restless