Technology in Learning Blog

10-1-11 … Some Thoughts on Virtual Game-Based Learning

The use of gaming environments as an instructional platform to engage learners has been increasing exponentially in the last couple years. It is worth reflecting before plunging into the practice. What are the benefits gained and drawbacks met? Some of the benefits include: thorough immersion of the learner within the environment, appeal to the learner’s sense of achievement, satisfaction of curiosity under the learner’s control, social interaction and collaborative exploration. Some of the drawbacks include: increased sense of helplessness when learners cannot master the environment or controls, incomplete learning, loss of interest by learners who do not relate to the game being played, and the hidden problem of the game interface providing preset interactions so that true learning interaction is controlled rather than being truly divergent. The latter is necessary within the computational interface, but it falls short of giving learners a full exploratory space.

Given these considerations, gaming can be an engrossing and effective environment that can bring learners from one level of knowledge up to a new level of knowledge and understanding. The most compelling reason to use gaming is that it engages by using an enjoyable instructional environment that appeals to a vast audience of new learners. Visit the following links for resources:

http://www.wideopendoors.net/educational_technology/gaming.html

http://gamesineducation.org/resources/

— Pat Donohue

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