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Roblyer and Hughes share that instructional software “serves the teaching functions of drill and practice, tutorial, simulation, gamification, problem-solving, and personalized learning” (2019, p. 157). When deciding to use instructional software, teachers have the responsibility of choosing and analyzing software carefully.
Let’s take a closer look specifically at gamification in education. Roblyer and Hughes define instructional games as “software products that combine game rules and / or competition to learning challenges” (2019, p. 176). So what are the benefits of gamification or game-based learning? What are the challenges? Gamification and game-based learning provide the following benefits according to Roblyer and Hughes: “Problem-based learning opportunities, collaborative learning opportunities, realistic and immersive environments, motivation, competition, interactivity, feedback, achievements, rewards, and playfulness” (2019, p. 179). Conversely, gamification poses the challenges of balancing fun versus learning, game goals versus learning goals, alignment with curriculum, various classroom barriers, and the transfer of learning as shared by Roblyer and Hughes.
When I was in the classroom as a World Language teacher, I used games for a lot of drill and practice, especially with vocabulary and structures. Those were areas that students tended not to want to spend a lot of time developing, but adding something perceived as “fun” with a competitive edge provided that motivation. These types of games also required minimal preparation and could be added into the lesson at the beginning as a warm-up or the end as a reinforcement. Growing those skills, developing those vocabulary and structures, provided students with the tools necessary for us to move forward.
Sometimes adding games to the classroom turns into a distraction, or the students try to use them as a distraction. They might not align with learning targets; they might require more effort to create and direct than students might gain from participating in them; they might just be a replacement for learning activities. Sometimes games might have an appeal and students might make the case to use them in the classroom, but they might just not be appropriate for the classroom – have you ever had a student ask to play Heads Up 7UP?
Gaming has a place in education, but one that needs to be intentionally chosen and evaluated by the teacher with student learning being the end result.
Roblyer, M. D., & Hughes, J. E. (2019). Integrating educational technology into teaching: Transforming learning across disciplines (8th ed.). Pearson Education, Inc.
I am a Technology Integration and LMS Specialist by title, but lifelong learner in practice. An Apple Teacher, Google Certified Educator and Microsoft Innovative Educator, my goal is to assist educators in investigating and exploring resources to embed in their instruction. I also hope to be a part of their journey toward an innovative and transformative practice that empowers learners and strengthens their own craftsmanship. I spends my free time with my family, my dogs and a good cup of coffee.