It can easily be said that digital games have the potential to be an important teaching tool because of their interactivity, engagement and immersion.
Serious games enable players to experience situations that otherwise would be impossible due to the cost, the amount of time, location and safety reasons. It mainly does this through the Simulation within the game that helps the players experience something that in the real world would be physically impossible to achieve. For example “Second Life” where you and create almost anything within a 3-dimensional fictional environment. Games can support education because they can provide a learning experience without the limitations of the real world.
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Within education, methods need to be formally put in place as way to assess the appropriateness and effectiveness for Games and Teaching. Tutors when introducing game based learning to their practice may be faced with questions about validity of the content and which pedagogic approaches they should be using. There is also the possibility of a mismatch between content, leading to inappropriate terminology and approaches not supported by evidence-based research. (Freitas and Oliver 2006)
Sara de Freitas and Martin Oliver describes in 2006 Computers & Education four interrelated methods that can be used for assessing games and teaching:
Image from S. de Freitas, M. Oliver / Computers & Education 46 (2006) 249–264
The method is designed to allow practitioners to be more critical about how they apply game based learning to the classroom environment.
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“Thus we argue that, to understand the future of learning, we should be looking beyond schools to the emerging arena of video games.” -Shaffer, Squire, Halverson & Gee
As technology and devices advance there is more and more talk about embedding Game Based Learning into formal education. Although it may be more effective for learning and ultimately more convenient for the long term, in the mean time we are stuck with multiple constraints. If we were to embed Serious Games in most Formal Education we must push through the what seems like a grueling start-up.
To further embed Serious Games in formal education we first need to asses it’s weaknesses. There are concerns about using leisure games like the physical and cost barriers, how much hardware is needed, licences, I.T support, and training tutors. Also if tutors aren’t educated properly in the difference between good and bad Game Based Learning games then it could hinder the learners experience. There is also the issue of the learning outcomes being lost in ‘play’ to a significant degree. To continue to further Serious Games in formal education we need to overcome these barriers.
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The logical basis for using games in education would be that when shaped for education within serious games, they can help learners learn faster and easier then some other methods of teaching. Games have infinite possibilities and provide active learning where they are engaging learners in play rather then listening or reading. They have player agency and can be customized to a specific learner with adjustable difficulty levels and learning methods. They provide rapid feedback, allowing reflection, discovery and comprehension.
Serious games can help the players experience something that in the real world would be physically impossible to achieve. It’s creating an environment full of endless possibility, and within itself can become a classroom on its own. A solid argument can be made that serious games can, and is, providing education with an entirely new platform full of endless possibility. With this technology available to us now it’s only a matter of time before this needs to be implemented into all school systems.
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