The basis for Game Based Learning (GBL) - by Michael Morgan (Helpdesk Assistant )
What is it, you ask? CBL can be defined as learning enhanced by interactive multimedia technology. It can take many forms, and is used in many ways. America's Army is a videogame that was developed by the U.S. Army using CBL techniques. It is used to train soldiers in practical combat situations and attempt to recruit more soldiers to service. Smaller scale programs serve various purposes, some as simple as teaching a user how to use a specific computer program, such as Microsoft Word or Dreamweaver.
Why would CBL be preferred over other methods of learning?
CBL has proven to be extremely effective and cost efficient. It can help with instruction, replace less dynamic learning resources (such as books), and provide a safe learning environment when one may not have been available before. Also, as current generations grow up surrounded by a technological world, they relate more easily to learning in a virtual environment than past generations.
Here is an excerpt from a paper written by an Army Rep. that well explains the advantages of using CBL for training.
Is CBL currently used to teach younger children academicly?
Yes. Many designers and programmers have found a place in the market for creating videogame-like teaching programs. This can be described as Game Based Learning, or GBL. There are many on the market, but some are more commonly known than others. The Jumpstart programs are often bought by parents seeking to give their children a headstart or more confidence. The Jumpstart programs are also popular with teachers, making their classrooms full of younger students excited to learn something new. As children grow in mental strength and comfort in virtual learning environments, they can progress to higher level programs that teach higher level skills. GBL is especially useful in implementing a progression through Bloom's Taxonomy through cognitive steps. A game first introduces new information, checks if the child remembers it by using basic tests, then makes the child interact with the new information through activities, encouraging an understanding of the material.
How can Game-Based-Learning be implemented in a classroom and why do so?
GBL would be best implemented in a classroom in the form of a fun, interactive program. Fortunately, such things already exist in today's society. Videogames are a strong base for GBL when used with children or young adults. Often, students are required to answer questions pertaining to subject matter correctly in order to advance in the game or to gain experience to defeat an enemy or achieve a goal. Many students have experienced playing videogames before, and something familiar often facilitates the learning process, as well as motivates the user to learn more so as to be better able to cope with new challenges in the game.
Here is an example of a computer game used to introduce 2nd graders to chemistry and science. (Click here!)
What is the difference between videogames and GBL?
Videogames are developed specifically for use in entertainment. Game Based Learning games are developed for education through the use of entertainment. This has caused the coining of the term "edu-tainment." Edu-tainment, ideally, uses concepts and techniques used in entertainment (videogames) to promote interest in learning and education. Games that fall into the edu-tainment category have been dubbed "Serious" games. Serious games have gained much appeal in recent years as advances in technology make them even more effective and cost-efficient.
Negative aspects of GBL?
There can be many problems with GBL. They can be flexible problems, but they must still be addressed. Some of the most common problems involve users being unable to interact with a virtual learning environment or being unable to use a virtual learning tool to teach another person. It is common that people who have not grown up using technology aided lifestyles often find it difficult to integrate with the learning/teaching style.
Click here for a pdf file detailing learning styles and how they might work with CBL/GBL.
Another, more controversial, problem is that CBL/GBL often disassociates human interaction from the learning process. Some believe that this is an acceptable outcome, while others believe this is an advantage. Some people may prefer to learn without human interaction. This concept comes under question when the computer aided learner is still in his/her developmental stages, such as young childhood years or adolescence. Many people believe that human interaction during these times is essential to a healthy mental development. Of course, others disagree. As there have been no long term studies on the effects of mostly or 100% CBL/GBL on individuals in the developmental stages, it is still up for arguement.