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What is the role of games in education?

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Philomena Dinesh

on 9 March 2014

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Transcript of What is the role of games in education?

Games and game-based learning have been a part of education for decades. However, with new technological advances, digital games have recently emerged as a new teaching tool.  Neuroscience has proven that games are tailor made to fit the different tasks humans face.
In conclusion, students are naturally motivated to play games. Interactive games teach students goals, rules, adaptation and problem solving. They give them the fundamental needs of learning by providing enjoyment, passionate involvement, structure, motivation, ego gratification, adrenaline rush, creativity, social interaction and emotion. Games have a deep biological, evolutionarily important, function, which has to do specifically with learning."
Playing educational games also help students to focus, improve self esteem and memory:

Educational games can help a student focus because they are being patient while waiting to get to the next level. Playing these games help their self esteem because sometimes they get a quicker reaction from the game system and they can really see how they have accomplished something. There are milestones that the children will have to reach and at the end of each stage they receive something that they will need to have for the next stage. This is also where their focus comes into play because they will take their time to make sure they do things correctly so that they may go on longer in the game.

Leapfrog Reading Software - This is a commercially-based company that provides hands-on electronic based books for learning to read interactively. This can be given to students as it self teaches reading if the child knows the basic concepts. It can be used to teach younger students but IEP and children with disabilities will also enjoy.
What is the role of games in education?
The article “Serious Games for Serious Topics” by Clark Quinn at eLearn Magazine studies the fact that serious games create a hands-on, minds-on opportunity that allows players to actively focus, create and change a scenario while simultaneously learning about consequences of choice in the situation. As students become more engaged and committed to succeeding in the game, they become more willing to learn about the scenario and the situation. They begin to care about learning more about the topic and how to solve the problem. As the article points outs, “It is the difference between watching a nature documentary and going backpacking in the wilderness” (Quinn). Watching a documentary is compared to memorizing new topics. Games allow students to become active participants in discovering new ideas, information and solutions to problems.
An educational game is a game designed to teach students about a specific subject and to teach them a skill. As educators, governments, and parents realize the psychological need and benefits of games have on learning, the role of Educational Games has become essential in learning. A primary advantage of educational games is that students can work on multiple skills and subjects across the curriculum at once. There are several benefits from open-ended, challenge-based, truly collaborative games as it can open opportunities for students to work on skills in all subject areas of education.

Cell Craft: This is an educational fun game created by Digital Media & Learning Competition and Dr. Jed Macosko at Wake Forest University along with Dr. David Dewitt at Liberty University. It teaches about the cells, their structure and how a cell survives a hostile environment.
Multiple Subjects

Quiz Hub: A bank of quizzes, puzzles and reviews to help students drill material.
26 Learning Games to Change the World: A list of games put together by Jeff Cobb at the 'Mission to Learn' website. Many of the games will donate to charitable causes for playing and students get to learn more about the issue or topic behind the game as they play. It includes everything from Darfur to Politics and from World Hunger to Business.
Benefits of using Game-Based Learning
Get students attention:
Students are easily engaged due to their willingness and interest in playing.

Get a positive experience about learning:
The use of games encourage students to keep learning and to erase the idea that learning is boring. It immerses them in the material so they learn more effectively and motivates students to learn outside the classroom

Memorize concepts or facts:
Solving a crossword or alphabet soup are activities more engaging than a regular test. Preparing some contests such as 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' or 'The Wheel Of Fortune' can encourage students to work in teams to achieve the goal.
Valuable websites used for reference:

Calculation Nation: Developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the site offers students in elementary school "online math strategy games that allow them to learn about fractions, factors, multiples, symmetry and more, as well as practice important skills like basic multiplication and calculating area — all while having fun.”

DimensionU: Math, Science and Literacy Video Games. It is a video game-based learning resource for JK to Grade 12 students. In DimensionU, students can access 3D multiplayer educational video games that help them hone their math and literacy skills, connect with friends, and compete and collaborate while learning."

According to the 2010 Horizon Report, games are a way for students to experience the struggles and successes of collaboratively working towards a solution to a complex problem set within an interesting storyline. The report defines  three types of educational gaming: 
Games that are not digital.
Games that are digital, but that are not collaborative.
Collaborative digital games. Many scholars understand the advantages of games in learning.
Reinforce and consolidate knowledge in a friendly environment:
The most effective way to turn content into something meaningful is to find out where and when to use it. Students can reinforce and consolidate their knowledge through practicing and getting reward for their achievements.

Understand the consequences of their choices:
Students learn through experiences and understand the consequences of their choices which help them work through trial and error. Games offer a safe environment to test and learn through mistakes so the information becomes meaningful when students understand its use.
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