One of the biggest criticisms of the game-based learning movement is that it costs too much to incorporate games into the curriculum. Thankfully, tools like Google’s G Suite and Chrome browser offer plenty of inexpensive and free ways to find, assess and create game-based experiences for the classroom. Educators can search for meaningful browser-based games or direct students to use G Suite for Education to design their own.
Here are a few ideas and strategies to get started with game-based learning:
The highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning is the act of creation in the classroom. Students can create a choose-your-own-adventure experience to teach others using Google Slides. Simply have them create choice-based “buttons” using the shapes tool and link each button to another slide with the results of that decision.
Additionally, Google Drawings can easily become a “battle royale” between students simply by dividing the creation space into four sections. Assign four students to the sections and give them each one minute to find an image on the internet that captures the meaning of a chosen vocabulary word, character or concept from the course. The whole class votes on which image best captures the selected word and students take turns explaining why they voted for that image.
One of the best ways to assess learning in a game-based environment is by using visual documentation followed by student reflection. Students can take screenshots of pivotal moments during the game and then drop them into a Google Docs table. The table can be customized to have the student reflect on the concept demonstrated in the game, a theme present in the storyline or much more. In addition, Chrome’s Screencastify add-on allows students to record the game on their screen and talk over the top of the action, which can easily turn into a reflective “vodcast” of what they took away from certain parts of the game play.
Look for web-based games at curated educational game sites like educade.org, gamindex.org, gamesforchange.org and more. Once you’ve found great games for learning, be sure to share information about them on social media by using game-based learning hashtags like #games4ed and #GBL.
Many educational games today focus on rewarding students with arbitrary actions about remembering or recalling facts. The best educational games ask students to make difficult yet interesting choices that lead to meaningful outcomes to help develop their understanding or perspective. Educational video game researcher, James Paul Gee, once said, “In a good game for learning, the level should be life.” Ask yourself if the game you assign could connect to a real-world application before you implement it.