SCHOOL EDUCATION GATEWAY How do we learn with games

We humans are not the only creatures on this planet who are familiar with the concept of play. In fact, play is widely practiced by most animals in some form. This suggests that a child’s urge to play is not a cultural phenomenon but an innate biological response to survive in the world.

This is confirmed by the eminent 20th-century educational theorists Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky, who argued that play is a crucial component of cognitive development from birth through adulthood (Piaget 1962; Vygotsky 1962). Learning through games encourages the acquisition and development of various hard and soft skills, as it stimulates problem-solving, encourages experiential learning and increases motivation. The player learns through repetition, failure, ongoing and non-threatening feedback and accomplishment of goals in a risk-free environment, which is aligned with clear objectives. As teachers, we therefore need to understand, facilitate, and use the concept of play to shape the learning experiences we create for our students. We will look at this idea in more detail in the next section about gamification.

Beyond this approach of “learning from games” to make our teaching more effective, we can also use games directly with our students to help them learn. On the course we explore this in four different ways:

  1. Serious games – games designed specifically for learning a certain topic or skill (Module 2)
  2. Games for thematic learning – using games not specifically designed for learning but for entertainment to engage students in learning about a certain theme or topic (Module 2)
  3. Games as tools of creation – developing key skills and creative capacity through the process of creating a product or output with a game (Module 3)
  4. Designing games – using the process of game design to develop key skills and creative capacity (Module 4)

Let’s look at the issue of learning with and from games through some input from Stéphane Cloâtre, a technology teacher in Fougeres, France, who regularly uses games in his classroom.

Source: School Education Gateway