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Defining New-Age Play in Education—Gamification, Game-based Learning and Game Design

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Defining New-Age Play in Education—Gamification, Game-based Learning and Game Design

Learning through a medium that both educates and entertains is called edutainment. Here, the aim is to make the learning process fun, thereby creating a positive experience. Research states that positive learning helps in better retention of concepts. Besides ensuring complete comprehension, keeping the students motivated and engaged is another challenge a teacher faces. Edutainment has broadened and developed, making itself adept at meeting such a challenge. Recent trends have witnessed innovative technology-based pedagogies — gamification of learning, game-based learning, etc — are adept in keeping children motivated. These terms are overlapping and closely-related and hence should be clearly defined to prevent confusion.

Game-based Learning

A social studies teacher might resort to Civilisation 3, the third part of a video game series on building empires, to explain Chinese politics and geography lessons to students. Here, the teacher has clearly defined the learning outcomes for the students. In other words, the teacher uses actual video games in the classroom and the students learn from the video game instead of a textbook or a digital classroom solution. Serious games can be used to impart lessons in subjects ranging from  civics to maths. Game-based Learning (GBL) balances the subject matter with play and also enables the students to apply the learnt concepts in real life.

Gamification

When students sign up on online platforms to practice their lessons in a gaming environment, they can challenge others, embrace competition and earn rewards, which is their biggest motivation. Simply put, the application of game mechanics in a non-game context is called gamification. Instant feedback and gratification in the form of scores keeps the student hooked. Effectively used and monitored by teachers, it can also be a student’s summative assessment. A student’s progress in a particular topic can be gauged by his/her performance. For instance, a student can challenge his/her classmate on the day’s lessons. While a teacher may not be able to set practice papers as per the varying needs of each learner, gamification addresses individual behavioural pattern to understand the progress made by each student appropriately.

Gamification is independent but also embodies the elements of game design. Game design includes the process of planning the gaming environment, setting the goals and mechanics, deciding upon the rules, and drawing the storyline and the characters. However, game designs employed in other sectors, such as business, public education, might get complex and have economic implications.

Education System Gamified from Beginning

The education system, in a way,  has always been gamified. Doing well in exams guarantee good marks, merits, awards, appreciation from teachers, and also the option of moving to the next level, i.e, next grade. After higher studies, the student has the option of gaining the ultimate reward of freedom from education. Learning and education has often been perceived by many as a cumbersome and struggling process. This has built pressure on students and also has the potential of adversely affecting their learning progress.

Hence, this propelled the need of relooking at this whole gamut again. Re-gamification involves deconstruction and reconstruction of the old system, and the implementation of innovative strategies  has led to new pedagogies; gamification and game-based learning being the latest ones.

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