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The Place of Game-Based Learning in an Age of Austerity
ARTICLE

Electronic Journal of e-Learning Volume 10, Number 2, ISSN 1479-4403

Abstract

Digital games have the potential to create active and engaging environments for learning, supporting problem-solving, communication and group activities, as well as providing a forum for practice and learning through failure. The use of game techniques such as gradually increasing levels of difficulty and contextual feedback support learning, and they can motivate users, using challenges and rewards, competition and mystery. Above all, computer games provide safe spaces in which learners can play, explore, experiment, and have fun. However, finding appropriate games for specific educational contexts is often problematic. Commercial entertainment games are designed for enjoyment, and may not map closely to desired learning outcomes, and the majority of educators do not have the time or specialist expertise to create their own games. Computer games are expensive to purchase or produce, and learners, particularly busy adult learners, need to be convinced of their effectiveness. So while there are many theoretical benefits to the use of computer games for learning, it given the increasing economic constraints in education, their use may simply not be practical. This paper presents three alternative ways in which the theory and practice of computer games can be applied to education, without the expense. First, the option of developing simple and cost-effective games with low technical specifications, such as alternate reality games, or using virtual worlds or one of the growing number of accessible game-builder toolkits to create educational games, will be explored. Second, learning "from" games rather than "with" them is discussed, examining game techniques that naturally enhance learning, and embedding those elements in traditional teaching practices. Third, the paper presents the option of giving learners agency as game creators rather than simply players, so that it becomes the process, not the product, which facilitates learning. The advantages and drawbacks of each approach are discussed, looking at both practical and pedagogic issues. In this way, the paper aims to offer alternative ways of thinking about the potential of digital games for learning, and present possible solutions to the increasing financial constraints that face the field.

Citation

Whitton, N. (2012). The Place of Game-Based Learning in an Age of Austerity. Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 10(2), 249-256. Retrieved December 11, 2019 from .

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