Dhilip Kumar, Chief Creative Director, BYJU'Sshares how edtech platforms use gaming as a powerful vehicle to make learning experience fun.
- Game mechanics, when employed in learning, provide students with a psychologically driven willingness to approach and meet their targets.
However, despite its recent popularity, the concept of game mechanics in learning new concepts has been around since the '70s. Termed 'epistemic games', these modules have been specifically concerned with developing knowledge through game-play that is focused on teaching players how to think creatively. Epistemic games served as the first digital era instructional tools in which the player learns to think like a professional by playing a simulated game pertaining to professions such as accounting, architecture, law, banking etc. establishing that
While there is a certain hesitancy in embracing game mechanics as a part of mainstream education among parents, these concerns are unfounded. In fact, studies reveal that game mechanics and the various reward-based approaches reinforce better learning and promote success. It's worth noting that the approach has less to do with games or gaming and more to do with incentivising the learning process through technology. The main objective of game mechanics is to motivate and reinforce student learning through feedback, rewards, and the opportunity to practise until they master a subject.
A study conducted by theorist Dr. Thomas W. Malone in 1980 revealed that intrinsically motivating teaching occurs via games when they offer players options in three important categories: challenge, curiosity, and fantasy. When a computer game is designed based on this framework, players are more motivated to play and learn. With the use of game-design principles, animations, interactive quizzes and tests, the whole learning experience is enhanced and the true power of technology is realised. Based on a recent report, the global game-based learning market reached a value of $5.8 billion in 2020 and is expected to keep growing in the years ahead, poised to become a prominent feature of e-learning.
Sustaining student motivation
Maintaining students' motivation has long been a priority for educators. Game mechanics, when employed in learning, provide students with a psychologically driven willingness to approach and meet their targets.
Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget proposed that the human condition is centered around the joy that comes from problem solving and expanding our world view. This notion led him to hypothesise that games that aim for true disequilibrium and provide tools to overcome it are typically the most effective.
Game learning combines theory-heavy subjects with engaging reward-based outcomes. The incentivisation of learning promotes analytical thinking and logical reasoning.
Enabling personalised learning
Educators have countless possibilities for selecting and implementing game mechanics in ways that connect with students' passions and enable them to achieve their learning objectives.
For example, a math teacher can pique students' interest in a simple lesson on geometry by engaging them in relevant shape-based games that introduce and reinforce the concept. Later, the teacher may also encourage students to further explore the topic using teaching aids so that the students can begin to form genuine ideas about equivalence.
When academic assignments are made more enjoyable, personalised and accessible for students, it helps them connect with their interests. Game-based e-learning allows students to design their own learning path, from building their own monitoring system to choosing the pace at which they wish to learn. It instills a sense of confidence and ownership in them while also strengthening their self-esteem. Instead of staying in the background, they are more inclined to take the initiative and lead.
Allowing creativity to flourish
Children are born with a creative spirit. Educational games encourage children to use a variety of techniques to solve problems, stimulating their creativity as well as their problem solving skills. Word-based games encourage youngsters to learn in a fun and participatory way, increasing both learning and collaborative thinking abilities. Furthermore, the incentives and points acquired throughout each session motivate learners further given that they are able to track their progress and plan their future steps in their learning journey.
Building interpersonal skills
While game mechanics can be highly personalised to suit an individual learner's needs, it can also be leveraged to engage group activities and teamwork among students. Game-based learning in groups has the ability to bring students together for a common objective. Collaboration, communication, and empathy are all enhanced as a result of this.
Negating the fear of failure
Failure is an inevitable and necessary component of the learning and growing process, although it is often viewed with a negative lens. Game-based learning teaches children that failing and reattempting tasks is perfectly acceptable. By removing the taboo around failure, it creates an environment of persistence and perseverance for children, which in turn fosters self-confidence, resilience, and better decision making acumen by reducing the stigma around failure.
While the wheels of innovation in online learning are still churning, there is little doubt that game mechanics is the future of e-learning. Game mechanics not only help children set clear goals but also creates a safe and engaging learning environment for a better learning experience. If an immersive and experiential learning journey is to be released for every child, game-based learning holds the key.