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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Design: Advantages of Games

The international software thinktank Gartner, Inc. has made the following statement about game-based learning in one of their recent reports (March 2006)

Games can reduce the time to competency and increase the depth of competency. Students can play a game repeatedly and learn from their mistakes. When designed properly, a game will enable students to experience on-the-job situations that they can deal with effectively in real situations. Studies have shown that games can make students proficient in skills four to six months earlier than students who took training classes but had no way to apply the knowledge.
While I tend to think that this quote may actually be discussing simulations of the work environment, I think the point is well taken. It is possible to shorten traditional learning curves through the use of a simulation-type game or interaction.

Just make sure that when you create the simulation-type game that you include three levels.
  • A demonstration level or tutorial to show the learner what he or she is supposed to be doing.
  • A practice level that allows the learner to rehearse what they should be doing but with guidance and assistance when needed or when a mistake is made.
  • A play or test level that allows unbridled access with no intervention except natural consequences.
For those of you not familiar with computer games or simulations, make an early new year's pledge to buy and play some games and deconstruct how they can be used for learning. A list of recommended games is contained in the footer of this post. Find a game, go to a teenager and ask him or her if you can play the game, I am sure they'd be glad to show you. Then play it yourself and see what happens.

While some people might feel that games for learning end in elementary school there are many advantages to educational games to be used all the way up through high school and college. Not online do people often learn through games with more interest since they're having fun, there are also educational games that anyone can use, such as to improve your golf game electronically.

Recommended Games and Gadgets
Recommended Books
Content Guide

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