Games Based Learning and 21st Century Skills

comments Commentstotal0
There are many characterisations of the skills that are most important in the 21st century. However, The University of Melbourne’s Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills (ATC21S) team defines them as:

  • Ways of thinking. Creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making and learning
  • Ways of working. Communication and collaboration
  • Tools for working. Information and communications technology (ICT) and information literacy
  • Skills for living in the world. Citizenship, life and career, and personal and social responsibility

Why are they important? There is a problem amongst employers, where entry-level candidates are seriously lacking in some of these skills (for example survey findings, see These skills are necessary for competitive, innovative, businesses of the 21st Century to thrive, and for young people to gain employment.

I don’t feel that the current education system effectively equips our youngest generation with the skills necessary to live and work in the 21st century. Games based learning may not be the entire solution, for example, ATC21S suggest assessment is a key element, but it may be part of one.

There are two ways that games help improve 21st century skills. First of all, some games directly aim to improve specific 21st century skills. For example, Real Lives teaches citizenship. Secondly, the act of playing certain games can increase skills, such as problem-solving e.g. Learn with Portals.

The second point is very important. The skills that are likely to be gleaned by the playing of games are often softer, 21st century skills. This is because, almost by definition, games require problem-solving, creativity, decision-making and so on. Many require communication and collaboration. What is so great about these skills is that they are highly transferable. It is easy to see how these skills can be useful both in and out of game worlds and a question frequently asked by children is, “When will I use this?”. Surely education should equip children with useful, transferable, relevant skills.

Games based learning is modern and relevant. And whether skills are gained explicitly or as a by-product, it is a valuable, modern way of skilling up children for the 21st century.

Related content


Comments (0)

Sign in to view or post comments
Why do I need to sign in? Microsoft respects your privacy. A global community, the Microsoft Educator Network asks you to sign in to participate in discussions, access free technology tools, download thousands of learning activities, take online learning or connect with colleagues.