Back in 2011, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced that they will invest in innovative teaching and learning tools that will enhance the educational experience in every classroom. They wanted to fund the development of learning resources that will help teachers be effective in their subject and keep their students interested.
The focus of these investments are game-based learning. Instead of the usual book and lecture learning, the educational content will be in game format.
We all know how children love to play games. Ask them about math and they will frown on you. But ask them about the video games they are playing, they can name every character and the ability or power to match.
The Gates Foundation understood this and they invested in incorporating game-based learning of math, English, science and language arts. They also sought to look into social networking and engaging environments in digital format.
Fast forward to 2014 and we begin to see these plans come into play.
In an article published on Edutopia.org, an implementation of this type of learning tool is presented. The game is called Historia and it is defined as a curriculum-aligned game that simulates important social and history content into the game play. It incorporates the middle school lessons of world history and cultures, geography, economics and government. The students are teamed together and are tasked to establish a government and the civilization that they will take care of. If they do good, their civilization will proper. If not, the civilization will weaken. The tragedies and details on this game are based on content derived from 4000 years worth of history (2000 BCE to 2000 CE).
Each team will be successful in caring for their respective civilization through their knowledge of a particular time in history. This includes an understanding of the people and the places relevant to the specific round in the game-based learning.
According to the article, the need to make their civilization thrive prompts the students to conduct research on the specific place so they can make the right decisions.
By taking the same content but presenting it in a game-based platform, students are more interested and are showing initiative to learn what could have been a boring lecture.
In the end, the game-based learning Historia is successful in the sense that it can help student learn human experiences by actually reliving them. Experience is the best teacher and the fun element makes the retention all the more effective.
It is important to note that these games will only be effective if the content is clear and the teachers are able to measure the learning of students accurately. If these are present, then students can learn more effectively. Imagine how students will feel about going to a school that promotes learning through game play? Excited should be an understatement.
What do you think about game-based learning in your local school system?
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