Games based learning - Beyond the theory

comments Commentstotal10
It is well documented how playing games can facilitate collaborative learning, promote problem solving and engage students. So, where do you start and how can you use games to support teaching and learning?

Games that generate data e.g. Kinect Sports and Kinect Joy Ride are great for teaching Maths and Statistics. Games that tell a story are great for developing creative writing. Puzzle games can develop problem solving and and physics based games such as Angry Birds can be used to explain velocity and momentum.

For example, you could play part of a game and ask students to describe what they saw and what they heard. You could ask students to write a story about what happens to the character next or to create a character of their own – complete with biography. You could have a race and record the lap times and use them to work out mean, mode and median or use a game to start a Socratic debate.

One game I have used to great affect is Kinect Sports. I have used it to teach Spreadsheet Skills however, the same principles can be used to teach statistics or graphs.

In order to practice spreadsheet skills, students take it in turns to complete Track & Field events using Kinect Sports on the Xbox. The students then compile the raw data generated by the class and input these into a suitable spreadsheet. The students then use basic and advanced skills to improve the look and functionality of their spreadsheet. Note: You don’t have to use Kinect Sports! You can use any game that generates scores or lap times. You can find copies of the lesson plans and resources for this activity here:

Obviously, using games in the classroom to support teaching and learning does serve up unique challenges. One of the main challenges is how to share one console with a class full of students and how do you can prevent certain students dominating the activity or the activity itself distracting from everything else. Here are some suggested strategies to support games based learning:

  • Use a random name selector to choose who goes first. (Alternatively, if you don’t have access to a random name selector, you could use a hat with names in or tin full of lolly pop sticks with student’s names written on them.)

  • Use multi-player games – This will allow more than one student to play at the same time.

  • Schedule the game playing during a lunch or after-school session so that lesson time can be used to focus on the linked activity or learning objectives.

  • Plan a secondary activity that supports the main activity and keeps the rest of the class engaged for example, ask students to record the results of each race/round as they happen or give each student a card with a secret task/mission written on them to complete whilst they are not playing the game.

Games based learning can be fun and engaging so what not try it yourself and share your own success stories!

Comments (10)

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.