Importance of adapting Game-based learning in the contemporary Indian education system
Learning is supposed to be intriguing and fun because only then you would enjoy the whole process of acquiring information, analyzing, and implementing it into your practical life. Most of the time, the formal education system seems to be otherwise. The reason is, having a rigid structure of the reward system claims scores as the only parameter to judge a pupil’s understanding of the subject. A zero-sum game process that declares binaries of achievers and non-achievers, students who can do well in life, and who could not be based on the scores or grades that they get. Plus academics always seems to overpower any other activity like sports, community engagement, arts, etc which are very much an integral part of the learning process.
This not only changes the whole scenario of imparting the knowledge but it affects the receiving end where students feel the pressure of those numbers more than the need to understand the subject thoroughly. A traditional method of pedagogy such as this can miss the playfulness and eagerness that is necessary for the education process. Our short-term memory can support us in scoring great marks with hard work but it is not helpful in the long-term process.
How to make learning more interesting? How to bridge the gap between theory and practice? By acknowledging that children naturally have more curiosity and have a sense of experimenting with everything new they come across and ensuring that it stays throughout their learning process. They love games! It is very much a core part of their childhood and very much a natural learning system inbuilt into all humans. Therefore, education can be more exciting with the implementation of a game-based approach wherein pupils can participate in it more actively rather than being a passive audience of teachers talking theory.
What is a game-based learning process?
Game-based learning indulges the exchange of education using games to define and support the subject or a specific concept. It has activities that keep up the motivation of students to learn something with help of instant rewards, engagement with their peers, and healthy competition.
However, game-based learning is different from gamification. Game-based learning includes actual games and gamification is all about using the game elements in a conventional learning scenario. These elements can be badges, leaderboards, point systems, etc. In gamification, a teacher has to adjust these game-like aspects with the lesson. For example, an online discussion forum on a chemistry course can be gamified by adding a point system. With every right answer, a student can get 10 points and it will be visible to his or her peers. This will create a competitive environment and immediate reward system which will motivate them to learn more.
In game-based learning, the content is molded to fit the actual game. For example, understanding the process of elections by conducting role play and organizing voting in the classroom environment itself. This process can make students understand how the overall campaigns work, what is ethical and what is not etc. Another well-known example would be playing ‘Monopoly’ to gather knowledge of economics.
Types of activities involved in game-based learning :
- Board games – A game you play on a board that usually involves the movement of pieces. Scrabble could be the best example of teaching spelling and enhancing students’ vocabulary well. Another one is Monopoly, as mentioned earlier, which can elevate mathematical skills in a more competitive but healthy way. Think of students multiplying and calculating money through this game than looking at the blackboard and getting stressed with numbers. The game can work better!
- Real-life games – What can be better than actual sports that encourage movement, critical thinking, communication, and a lot of strategizing? Science can be learned quite better through engaging in sports in a much better way. You get to learn about your body reflexes, motions, and everything related to maths or science in the field itself. What you learn and solve in theory, could be applied in outdoor games and a more immersive experience. Teachers should ensure that students play sports in whichever format they like as it is healthy for their minds and body.
- Digital games – This is recent and relevant to 21st-century students who are used to being in front of screens and much more tech-savvy than the earlier folks. Examples of digital games include Buzzmath, Minecraft, Prodigy math, etc.
Benefits of a game-based learning process :
- Increase active engagement and motivation to learn- Games allow students to approach any subject more creatively and competitively. A traditional method of presenting and oral pedagogy can perceive students as a passive audience who is just there to get the information without making them part of the learning process. In a game-based method, students will add their inputs and be more reactive than usual.
- Create a solid foundation for future learning and multi-disciplinary skills – Play makes it easy to navigate through the toughest subjects when done in a healthy and safe environment. This is a facilitator’s task to make students interested in a particular subject through the smart integration of games with topics and conduct a balanced set of activities, focusing on theory and practice. Games can allow students to interlink different aspects and see a subject from a multidimensional perspective. Or the process can make them think likewise. Despite having an immediate reward system,
- Improves analytical, critical thinking, and reasoning skills – This is possible in traditional methods too but not as easily as it is with the game-based learning process. These qualities get seeped in subtly in a student when he or she is involved in gaming activity. Teachers can conduct a reflective method after introducing and getting done with games. A student can evaluate their performance and what they got out of it with the help of teachers. It helps in tracking progress and also understanding how gaming is effective in the education process.
- Offers more inclusivity due to flexible nature – A ‘One to many’ nature of teaching is challenging in itself as you got to deal with different characters who come from different setups at the same time. Game-based methods can ease this process. An introverted child can perform well in games and feel validated about his or her knowledge when in another case they might not answer a question immediately due to anxiety about speaking or just lack of interest. Teachers should make sure that they play all sorts of games that cater to all kinds of students and built their social skills during the process.
- Activates the nervous system and regulates it positively – Game-based learning can fulfill the need of various parts of the cerebrum. This includes the visual, creative, emotional, social, and motivational parts of the brain.
When To Use Game-Based Learning?
Although game-based learning has its benefits, it should be implemented to have a practical understanding of its drawbacks as well. Entire curriculum cannot be taught only with the help of games but with a combination of traditional and modern methods of facilitation.
Teachers should ensure that students should not spend more time on screen or get distracted or swayed away by these methods but get the knowledge of subjects as well.
The facilitators can apply game-based learning –
- When the topics are tricky and could be simplified a bit with a more immersive experience.
- When you wish to promote critical and strategic thinking amongst the learners.
- When you want to support struggling learners in learning better.
- Lastly, when the students lack interest and need some refreshment.
At VHS, we believe in inculcating this participatory approach to learning and continuously reevaluate these methods to make it more comprehensive. The motive is to make learning fun and keep developing innovative ways of education by making students part of the module construction process.