Game-Based Learning: new practices, new classrooms
Why should we implement games for learning? How should we do this? What games are appropriate for my needs? This new issue of eLearning Papers should help to find answers to such questions. The potential of Game Based Learning (GBL) is still underestimated. We firmly believe that GBL can play a major role in renewing learning as it is perceived by learners in all levels of education and training systems.
In parallel to the phenomenal rise of the digital game development industry, over time the acceptance of games in other sectors has also grown. Availability of the first games, e.g. Tennis for Two in 1959, and Spacewar in 1962, was limited through having access to a computer and generally to the technical staff of universities. But starting from these isolated applications, throughout game arcades, PCs, and consoles, digital games eventually became part of mass-media culture, influencing our interactions with and expectations of digital applications, digital art, how we communicate, and finally, the way we learn.
Digital games have now been embraced by the academic community as a research topic, as well as discovered by the education sector as a highly interactive platform that can support and foster learning. As a popular and powerful media, computer games are being considered for use in various education and training settings to motivate learners, to focus their attention, and to help them construct meaningful and permanent records of their learning.
Games have high presence in informal learning contexts – but in formal education, they are still often seen as an unserious activity and their potentials for supporting learning remain undiscovered. However, when evaluating games with their children, 85% of parents believed that computer games contributed to learning in addition to providing entertainment.
Furthermore, when surveyed, the majority of teachers report they are willing to incorporate video games into their lesson plans, but most of the available research, techniques, and appropriate games are rarely promoted to them.
Besides the fantasy and fun elements, games may foster players’ ability to communicate and interact with others during gameplay. Computer games can help players to think critically when they are required to construct connections between virtual and real life.
Furthermore, moral behavior can be promoted mainly through activities and cooperative games between equals. The rules in the games can be a chance for players to experience the dimensions of honesty, fairness, respect and group solidarity.
Game-like learning environments can provide motivating interdisciplinary learning settings, creating opportunities that could improve student collaboration skills as well as help them learn new concepts and synthesize new information. Games have also been praised for the potential they offer for learning business leadership and other skills by practicing these skills in a safe environment.