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'Engaging Children Through Game-based Learning Can Improve Manual Dexterity, Reduce Fear'

Game-based learning improves self-confidence, conceptual clarity, memory, analytical skills, life skills, etc. Games can help improve a child’s manual dexterity

Game-Based Learning


With the rapidly expanding online learning landscape, promoting the importance of gamification in education is more engaging and appealing for children, especially with schools that continue to remain closed with the ongoing pandemic. Educational institutions are increasingly adopting pedagogy that allows children to be stress-free. There are many ways to leverage game-based learning to decrease the academic pressure on children and ensure that they learn with an understanding. Additionally, by playing educational games, children can learn STEM concepts relatively easily while having a lot of fun.

Pranav Kothari, Chief Executive Officer, Educational Initiatives in a conversation with Republic World has talked about the benefits of game-based learning. 

What is game-based learning and how does it work?

The use of gaming with educational goals to support children's learning and growth is known as game-based learning.  Children remember stories much better than instruction and games is one such vehicle. Games promote the behaviour of challenge which can encourage children to spend extra time. Analytical thinking and logical reasoning are aided by game-based learning. It also improves problem-solving and collaborative thinking skills in children. Game-based Learning or GBL is an ancient approach to help children learn and improve their knowledge in different areas of life.

Games have the ability to create immersive experiences that help the user reach the ”flow” state to achieve expertise in a topic at a faster pace. Game-based learning experiences lead to higher engagement and better learning outcomes. Game-Based Learning (GBL) has been instrumental in creating active learning experiences and enhance learning outcomes by improving the retention of knowledge.

Additionally, games such as Sudoku, Lego Tower, and Scrabble help children develop critical thinking, analytical skills, and creativity, all of which help children perform better in various aspects of their lives.

Why is game-based learning important? 

Combining games and education promotes "Learning by Doing." According to research, our attention span has decreased in the last 20 years from 12 seconds (in 2000) to 8 seconds in 2020 and that is posing challenges when it comes to learning with understanding. To learn something new it is important that the user engages well with the content.

Retaining what one has learnt is important in order to translate knowledge into action and for that, practice is quintessential. Games are a good mask for worksheets - it helps to build speed & proficiency - which is important to strengthen the conceptual understanding that a child has developed. 

Essentially a child could have understood how to add or multiply - but unless the child does many similar problems, there is a chance they may forget. Giving worksheets may cause a child to feel drudgery but playing a game would allow the 'learning' to solidify in a fun environment.

How is game-based learning relevant in the current virtual learning landscape amidst the pandemic for children?

The world is going through a tough time due to the recent pandemic. With online learning becoming the new normal, it's becoming challenging to keep children engaged while they take online classes. GBL is an option to increase the interest and autonomy of learning. Nowadays, innovative and interactive methods for increasing the enjoyment and effectiveness of learning continue to gain popularity.

Edtech is designed to facilitate personalised and effective instruction. As online education becomes more prevalent, educators are increasingly incorporating game-based learning into the classroom.

What are the benefits of using game-based learning to enhance skills for children?

Game-based learning improves self-confidence, conceptual clarity, memory, analytical skills, life skills, etc. Games can help improve a child’s manual dexterity and reduce fear. Games can also teach children to become better problem solvers and boost their self-confidence. Games have proven to help dyslexic children improve their reading.

What is the future of game-based learning? What are the trends that can be expected in game-based learning with technological advancements?

A report, The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts, commissioned by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, found that 50% of 470 dropouts shared they could have succeeded with engaging classroom and course material. As the education industry is becoming aware of the benefits of gamifying learning processes, educators can certainly leverage the power of educational games to help the new generation learn efficiently and create a world where every child can learn with understanding and fun.

We can expect to see more GBL programs replacing the traditional way of teaching while the teachers will still play an important role as facilitators of learning. For a better reach, game-based learning will be developed with mobile technology in mind, but it will also adapt to the way people consume content on mobile devices. 

What are the aspects that educators need to focus on when designing games for education?

 While designing educational games one must design keeping children in mind. 

A. Focus on the goal of learning:

It is critical that learning game designers do not deviate from the games' primary learning objective. It's very easy to get lost in the details or swayed away by the visual effects and other enjoyable aspects of the game. The best educational games are those in which the creator strikes the optimal balance between fun and the primary learning objective.

B. Simplicity & mode of usage: 

The user navigation should be kept as simple and effective as possible. As adults, we frequently forget what it was like to be children and design according to our current understanding. There are some fundamental differences and similarities between children and adults that are beautifully described in Debra Levin's book "Design for children." These distinctions and similarities are critical when designing games for children and adults.

C. Tutorials and immediate feedback:

Designing effective educational games is an iterative process, and designers frequently make assumptions that are not readily apparent to the end-user. To accelerate learning through educational games, it is critical that some pilots are conducted.

(Disclaimer: The author of this article is Pranav Kothari, Chief Executive Officer, Educational Initiatives. Views expressed here are personal. Republic World does not take any responsibility for it.)

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