Food for Thought: game-based learning and pedagogy
‘A Modest Proposal’, IGDA’s Culture Clash column for April 2008, Matt Sakey writes on game-based learning and education from a culture-orientated perspective. He discusses the potential of game-based learning and highlights the need for the education system to be redesigned to focus on experiential learning. However, he also states that games fit into the experiential design and that they could teach all aspects of learning.
“Experts say that games can’t completely replace other forms of pedagogy. Maybe not, if you simply take games and try to stuff them up the current model for education, a model based mostly on rote memorization through lecture, and less on interpretation and application. You’re told that Animal Farm is a commentary on Socialism, told where Bhutan is. Games don’t work that way; they are experiential. Players draw their own conclusions from the context, which is why games couldn’t totally replace the system as it exists today. Redesign the model to focus on experiential learning, though, and games would be a perfect fit. Of course, the games would have to be very well-designed.”
Even if the games were very well-designed I believe there is a need for a teacher figure to guide discussions on the learning content with the class as a whole. Reflection and discussion is an important part of learning and understanding. In ‘A Grand Proposal’, Daniel Livingstone also comments on this article stressing the need for reflection and discussion.
“In fact, numerous reports on game based learning (several I’ve mentioned before on this blog, apologies for not linking to them just now – I may return and add the links later) emphasize the need for teachers to facilitate reflection when games are used in class. Why? Because in most cases playing the game alone is not enough to make students think things through.”