Games, Gamification, Game-Based Learning, oh my

I can see how "fun educational activities" aka games can appear to be treating adults like children. If executed well, and if a clear learning outcome is evident to learners, then I think the risk of offending is reduced.

Adults will still take part in game-like activities, especially when they see a point to them or when there are problems to be solved. So why not use “fun educational activities” in the classroom?

To explore this topic further, here is my list of the
Top 5 Infographics about Gamification
benefits of gamification
playing to learn
games vs game based learning vs gamification
using prizes boost learning
gamification and instructional design

I came across this article contrasting traditional learning, hands-on learning and game-based learning. Here is a summary of a portion of the article I think is crucial when using games, or “fun educational activities” in the classroom.
Characterizing Good Game-based Learning Environments
  • Subset Principle: create a simplified version of the setting that omits unimportant details, so that players can focus on aspects of the simulation that are relevant to the learning objective.
  • Active, Critical Learning Principle: The learning environment must encourage active and critical, not passive, learning. After the task, it can be followed by a quiz—they actually think, act, experience consequences and pursue goals.
  • Probing Principle: Learning is a cycle of probing the world (doing something); reflecting on this action and, on this basis, forming an assumption; re-probing the world to test the assumption; and then accepting or rethinking the assumption. 
  • Practice Principle: Learners get lots of practice in a context where the practice is not boring. To keep learners engaged, they need to see their progress, which keeps them engaged and encourages them to continually hone their skills.
To wrap up this post about games, fun educational activities, gamification and game-based learning, I encourage you all to take a look at anything Jane McGonigal has produced because she believes games that are designed to improve real lives and solve real problems. She is most famous for
Super Better, 2016
The Game that can Give you 10 Extra Years of Life, 2012
Gaming can Make a Better World, 2010


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