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:
1. Use G Suite Tools to Facilitate Creation
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 share with others using Google Slides. Simply have them create choice buttons using the shapes tool, and link each button to a slide that corresponds with a decision.
Additionally, Google Drawings can easily become a battle royal between students simply by dividing the creation space into four sections. Assign a student to each section and give them one minute to find an image on the internet that captures the meaning of a chosen vocabulary word, character or concept from the course. Then ask the class to vote on which image best captures the selected word and students take turns explaining why they voted for that image.
2. G Suite and Chrome Help with Game-Based Assessment
One of the best ways to assess learning in a game-based environment is to use 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 narrate the action, which can easily turn into a reflective “vodcast” of what they took away from certain parts of the gameplay.
3. Surf the Web to Curate a List of Games
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.
4. Focus on Experiential Games, Not Reward-Based
Many educational games today reward students with arbitrary actions in response to remembering 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 believes "good video games are extensions of life." Ask yourself if the game you assign could connect to a real-world application before you implement it.