The dynamics of engagement for 21st century students are different from those of students that were taught in the pre-Internet era. Today’s students are digital natives. Digitality is an essential part of their everyday life. As a result, the way they reason and think is influenced , to a large extent, by the use of digital technologies. They (students) tend to think “on multiple tracks at once, but have little patience with linear reasoning or delayed gratification”. (Prensky, 2001 cited in Carlton). They work on short bursts of attention and thrive in interactive student-responsive learning environments. To cater to the learning needs of these students and to their engagement in the learning process, you will have to integrate the thing they love the most: digitality. One way to do this is through the use of games (all sorts of games).
The benefits of game-based learning in education are well documented in the pedagogic literature. Games are proved to improve a wide variety of skills including social, emotional, cultural, intellectual, and critical skills. Given their multimodal nature, games can help students enhance their writing and reading comprehension. And for students learning a foreign language, games provide them with immersive experiences where they get to interact, learn and practice using newly learned language in quasi-authentic environments.
However, using games in your teaching requires purposeful and structured planning. According to Guido, whose post we drew on to create the visual below, there are 5 steps to a successful implementation of game-based learning in your class. These are: 1) determine the rationale behind using a game in your instruction, 2) try the game beforehand and make sure it is aligned with your teaching goals, 3) ensure it meets expectations from parents, 4) devote some time to consistent in-class plat, and finally 5) conduct formative assessments throughout the play and use gleaned insights to inform your teaching. The visual below provides more details on each of the five steps mentioned earlier. Check it out and share with us your feedback in our Facebook page.
A PDF version of this visual is available for free download from this page.