The Power of Play: How Kids Benefit from Game-Based Learning

Last Updated: May 31, 2018 4:00 pm
The Power of Play: How Kids Benefit from Game-Based Learning

The Power of Play: How Kids Benefit from Game-Based Learning

Game-based learning, particularly with computer games, is a powerful way to channel the magic of play into learning. In fact, game-based learning dates back to the 1970s! Remember Oregon Trail? By leading a family on their journey west, you learned how to make logical decisions, communicate efficiently, and work toward a goal.

While modern game-based learning is more advanced, it ultimately has the same goal: make learning fun (and encourage retention) by turning it into something all kids love to do – play!

Game-based learning doesn’t just refer to activities like gamified multiplication drills; rather, it encompasses immersive and engaging games in which kids step outside of themselves and see problems from the point of view of a character or narrator. This kind of learning allows kids to work through issues and frustrations in a digital space.

What is Game-Based Learning? 

Game-based learning is an educational approach that leverages the principles of gaming to engage and instruct learners in a dynamic and interactive manner. It encompasses the use of video games, board games, simulations, and other game-like activities to deliver educational content and facilitate the acquisition of knowledge and skills. Unlike traditional classroom methods, game-based learning encourages active participation, problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration, making it a popular choice in both formal and informal educational settings.

One key aspect of game-based learning is the integration of educational objectives into the game design. Games are crafted to align with specific learning outcomes, ensuring that players are exposed to relevant content while enjoying the experience. This alignment helps motivate learners as they are often more intrinsically motivated to succeed in a game context. Additionally, games often offer immediate feedback and opportunities for learners to experiment and learn from their mistakes, fostering a growth mindset and a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

Game-based learning has gained prominence due to its ability to cater to various learning styles and preferences. It can be particularly effective in teaching complex concepts, problem-solving skills, and decision-making in a fun and immersive way. As technology continues to evolve, the potential for game-based learning to enhance education across diverse domains becomes increasingly evident, making it a valuable tool for educators and learners alike.

What are the Benefits of Game-Based Learning? 

When learning is fun, kids love to learn. According to psychologist Judy Wills, “Students retain what they learn when the learning is associated with strong positive emotion.”

Featured Maker Gabriella explained it best – “I like the fact that I’m learning while doing something I enjoy. That’s something that matters a lot to me – if you don’t like what you’re doing, what’s the point?”

Game-based learning (or GBL) benefits kids because they take charge of their learning. They make choices, test ideas, and practice skills like iteration. Education Technology describes how GBL “creates an intrinsic motivation to learn more” because kids take pride in their advancement through the game, an accomplishment made possible by the concepts they learn as they play! The consistent feedback provided by game-based learning makes it ultra-engaging and motivating.

GBL promotes critical thinking and problem solving; it also creates opportunities to learn technical skills as well as soft skills. With GBL, games can be used to teach anything from English to problem-solving to coding. Because kids love to talk about and play games together, game-based learning can become a collaborative activity as well as a highly individualized experience.

How do you Teach Game-Based Learning? 

Teaching game-based learning effectively involves a systematic approach to harness the educational potential of games in the classroom. It begins with a clear definition of learning objectives, where educators articulate the specific skills and knowledge they aim to impart through game-based activities. The selection of suitable games is crucial, considering factors like age-appropriateness and alignment with learning goals. Additionally, educators should ensure that students have access to the necessary technology and software for the chosen games.

Familiarity with the selected game is essential for educators, as it allows them to understand its mechanics, challenges, and potential educational opportunities. Designing purposeful learning activities that integrate the game into the curriculum is the next step, focusing on how the game can reinforce learning objectives. Clear instructions must be provided to students, outlining the connection between gameplay and educational content. During gameplay, educators facilitate engagement, monitor progress, and encourage collaboration among students. Afterward, a reflection and debriefing session helps students connect their gaming experiences to the learning objectives, fostering critical thinking.

Assessment plays a vital role in gauging student understanding, and educators can employ various methods to evaluate the knowledge and skills acquired through game-based learning. Continuous feedback and improvement are integral, with educators iteratively refining their approach based on student experiences and feedback. Staying informed about the latest developments in game-based learning ensures that educators can leverage new tools and opportunities to enhance their teaching strategies. Ultimately, game-based learning, when integrated thoughtfully into the curriculum, can be a powerful educational tool that engages students and deepens their understanding of various subjects.

What is an example of Game-Based Learning? 

Minecraft: Education Edition is an educational version of the immensely popular video game Minecraft. Developed by Mojang Studios and adapted for educational purposes, this platform offers a unique and engaging learning experience for students of all ages. In this version, teachers can create customized virtual worlds aligned with their curriculum objectives. These worlds can be used to teach a wide range of subjects, including history, science, mathematics, and even soft skills like teamwork and problem-solving.

One of the key features of Minecraft: Education Edition is its versatility. It allows educators to build immersive learning environments where students can collaborate, explore, and learn by doing. Whether it’s recreating historical settings, exploring ecosystems, or solving complex mathematical puzzles within the game, the platform fosters active engagement and critical thinking. The game also provides a safe and controlled space for students to experiment, make mistakes, and learn from their experiences. “Minecraft: Education Edition” demonstrates how gamification can transform traditional classroom learning into a dynamic and interactive educational adventure.

How do I introduce game-based learning?

Tynker courses harness every aspect of GBL! With Tynker, kids learn to code as a means to control any and every aspect of the game they’re playing through. They’re guided through courses to add an element of structure and help kids associate their discoveries with coding terms and techniques, but their accomplishments and sense of advancement are still their own.

According to Featured Maker Hannah, “The courses are very imaginative….it doesn’t feel like you’re actually learning something – they put it together like a video game.”

Game-based learning is a powerful tool – it turns education into an adventure and fosters a lifelong love of discovery. Kids who Tynker reap the benefits of game-based learning – get your child started today!


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About Tynker

Tynker enables children to learn computer programming in a fun and imaginative way. More than 60 million kids worldwide have started learning to code using Tynker.