Game-based learning has been showing up in more and more classrooms across the globe in relation to video games. This may seem unorthodox at first, but it’s obvious that people have put a lot of thought into it. Zachary Hartzman is a teacher from New York who has started a blog and created a curriculum. The purpose of which, was to teach with video games and even addresses comics.
The site praises the value of games in learning as well as explaining the process. It’s not a former gamer trying to wedge Pacman into class, he’s got a method and is transparent about it. It’s clear that Hartzman has done his homework and wants to teach with media.
This is one of many examples of what’s called Game-Based Learning and it’s not as new as you might think. The first examples of game-based learning date as far back as the Middle-Ages. Chess was used to teach strategy and focus on long-term goals, to royals and warriors alike. When the idea of Kindergarten was invented in the mid-1800s, it was a ‘learning through play’ mentality.
So though this might seem like an excuse to play games, it’s definitely time-tested. Besides, anyone who has spent any amount of time learning strategy games can attest to their value. Try learning a game like Chess or Go and not better understanding strategy. You’ll soon find yourself thinking about decisions as steps to larger moves. It clears your mind to think multiple steps in advance, a valuable skill in everyone’s life.
Game-Based Learning vs. Gamification
Game-Based Learning is using games of any form to teach concepts. Not to be confused with Gamification, where ‘tokens’ and ‘achievements’ are used to motivate learning. This is more of a strategy to turn mundane or boring things we do every day into accomplishments. You can use Gamification in a classroom, however, you don’t have to change your curriculum to do so. Gamification is a motivational tactic, not exclusive to the classroom or even to learning.
There are even apps available to get achievements for accomplishing goals. People who aren’t students in any capacity can use gamification to motivate themselves. But you don’t have to play games for this experience, even phone games.
With these things in mind, we have to have an eye on the future. If we are becoming more enmeshed with technology every day, we have to become comfortable with the new ‘normal’. Some people see more screens in faces, and that may be true. But the fact is, those screens will be there regardless. Technology isn’t going to stop progressing and we need to find how to utilize it. It seems prudent to figure out the best ways to use games to teach. Otherwise, what will they be used to do?