Video games are designed to be addictive. The mark of a great game is that it keeps the player hooked on to it for as long as possible. The key elements needed to achieve this is to make the game as interesting as possible. The game needs to be interactive, engaging and must have the right risk to reward ratio for the player to not give up on it. Parents with young children fret about the addictiveness of computer games these days. There is ample evidence to suggest that people are spending more time playing games. They are also spending more on them. The video game industry is among the fastest-growing sectors of America’s economy and generated $25 billion in sales in 2011. The subtle art of developing such games may sound easy but even multibillion-dollar studios oftentimes fail to achieve this feat.
With so much time and money put into this industry, it has become a widespread worry that traditional methods of education are simply not interesting enough. The benefits of gaming, however, should not be overlooked. Games have been used to train people to type, to overcome phobias, develop motor skills, teach problem-solving, release tension and even exercise. A brand new study suggests they might help those with dyslexia learn to read. Why would a child choose plane old books over a colorful, interactive and fun experience?
This simple question has gone on to breed an entirely different approach to education. Game-Based Learning (GBL) is a method of fusing education into knowledge-based games. game-based learning applications can draw us into virtual environments that look and feel familiar and relevant. Within an effective game-based learning environment, we work toward a goal, choosing actions and experiencing the consequences of those actions along the way. We make mistakes in a risk-free setting, and through experimentation, we actively learn and practice the right way to do things. This keeps us highly engaged in practicing behaviors and thought processes that we can easily transfer from the simulated environment to real life.
With a renewed sense of purpose, students would earn rewards for their performance that would further encourage them to explore their respective subjects and to fortify their knowledge base. Game-based learning is built to be adaptive from the beginning. During the production process, the game is tested and adjusted to be a more effective learning tool. As new information comes out in the field or educational approaches are adjusted, the game can be changed to suit them. After the game is released, it can be updated with new information, approaches, and more. Games even have student-monitoring analysis tools that allow teachers to monitor the students so the game can be adjusted in future updates.
One such software is Wowzers. Wowzers is a math-based GBL solution that allows students from kindergarten to grade 8 to take a much more interactive approach towards mathematics. It is developed by a group of professionals who have made sure that is based on the universal standards of mathematics. It is also grounded on brain-based research that makes sure that the approach taken by the game is relevant to the targeted demographic. The assessments are highly adaptive and are also trackable. This means that the teachers can recognize and improve specific areas of the subject where the student may be struggling. Wowzers provides a personalized approach to learning where the curriculum adapts to the performance of individual students. This results in the student revising what they are struggling with along with learning new syllabus in other areas. On the other hand, Wowzers also helps retain the students’ interest through context-based learning. This helps students easily interact with the subject. Providing a narrative to a problem further helps in delivering the practical aspect of mathematics to the students.
To adopt this new way of teaching, the teachers need to be trained too. This is exactly why wowzers provides the “Wowzers Professional Development Certification Course”. This course allows the teachers to understand this method of education to the fullest and use this software to its full potential.
Game-based learning is about more than giving students educational games like Wowzers. It’s about changing the approach of students towards learning and the approach of learning towards students. The goal is for students to enjoy the process of learning itself.
As a student learns through game-based learning, they gain much more ownership of the material, which improves retention. The combination of different approaches and goal-based learning addresses all of the learning styles at the same time. No matter what a student’s primary, secondary, or tertiary learning style, a game can address them. Games can even combine multiple subjects into a single game, creating a versatile learning tool.
Learning games also provide students a safe environment for failure. It can be hard for students, especially adolescents, to fail in a public setting like a classroom. Games give them a chance to try out new things. If they fail in the environment of the game, then they can simply try again and learn from their mistakes. Instead of education based on rote memorization, students learn through experimentation and trial and error.
To conclude, it is fairly safe to say that the modern education system has been very slow to adapt to the needs of the new generation of students. This may be due to the effort that it takes to push out revised versions of textbooks that were first published decades ago or the failure to make use of the latest and greatest IoT tools available to us today. At this crucial time, GBL tools like Wowzers offer us a unique perspective on education that is almost guaranteed to improve today’s classrooms in more ways than one. These tools help students reach their full potential without ever being pressured or overwhelmed by the fear of failure; and therefore, solving one of the biggest issues with the current education system. Game-Based Learning is the stepping stone towards the future of education.