Unit 1: Introduction to Game based Learning


ETAP_623_Spring_2021_(Byrne) |Rawan Abdelaal's Portfolio Page | Integrating Educational Video Games

Learning Objectives

At the end of this unit, you should be able to

  • Define and explain game-based learning.
  • Define Educational video games
  • Explain and discuss the benefits of game-based learning and educational video games.

1.1 Introduction

Engaging students in classroom content is always a hard task, and traditional forms of education have become expected and somewhat redundant, that the learning capacities of students are very weak. According to research, when students aren’t engaged, they’re more likely to disrupt class, less likely to accept challenges, have lower grades, and aren’t confident in their ability to learn (Isaac, Cruss & Maliqi, 2015). Additionally, sustaining engagement is very important to ensure that the student is gaining the most out of their learning experience and that their cognitive skills are always stimulated. Engaging the digital natives through educational video games that are built on educational content has proven to be a great way not only to keep students engaged but also to deliver complex theories/topics in an interactive manner allowing students to have a deeper comprehension of the content.

Game-based learning and video games provide much more learning opportunities than expected. Understood Team have set out to explain that even though there are clear watch-outs for families when kids play video games, however, there are upsides that can make for great educational use, when the right educational video game is selected. You can further discover these benefits here: https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/learning-at-home/games-skillbuilders/4-surprising-benefits-of-video-games

Moreover, educators and instructors have set out to discover these benefits and potential for learning in some of the more popular, entertainment-focused games that your students (and you!) already enjoy at home. Common Sense Education explains how games can be present in classrooms and enhance learning:

As we begin our unit and after watching the video, please respond to this survey: https://forms.gle/Nc1zM27iZpH1hcuW6

1.2 What is game based learning?

Discussions about designing more student engaging curriculum need to include techniques that teaches students how to be critical, confident and creative as well as abilities that they will need for success in the work-a-day future life. Many schools have adopted game-based learning, a pedagogical approach that involves designing learning activities through video games where the game characteristics and game principles inhere within the learning activities themselves. For example, in an Economics course, students might compete in a virtual stock-trading competition, in a science class, students learn about genetics through Geniventure, a dragon hereditary game. There are many forms of game-based learning, including introduction of badges, leaderboards, and educational video games. Our focus here is educational video games and how they can be utilized to enhance curriculum development and student content comprehension.

Gaming is inherently motivating, which may allow learners to gain skills and knowledge, by leveraging entertainment and weaving it within learning environments (Becker, 2008; Bopp, 2006; Gee, 2005; Gee, 2003; Killi 2010; Killi, 2007; Miller, 2008; Paraskeva, Mysirlaki, & Papagianni, 2010; Rieber, 1996; United States Department of Education, 2010; Van Eck & Hung, 2010). Research studies, as well as conceptual literature indicate that video or digital games in particular have great engagement and education related benefits (Bogost, 2007; Griffiths, 2002; Paraskeva, Mysirlaki, & Papagianni,2010; Zarraonandia, Diaz, Aedo, & Ruiz, 2014).

1.3 Why use educational Video Games?

Recent studies have shown that introducing educational video games and adopting a game-based learning teaching approach, has helped students achieve better learning performance (Hung & Sun, 2013), improved student engagement (Bawa, 2020), promote motivation and active processing of educational content (Erhel &Jamet, 2013).

Recent studies have shown that introducing educational video games and adopting a game-based learning teaching approach, has helped students achieve better learning performance (Hung & Sun, 2013), improved student engagement (Bawa, 2020), promote motivation and active processing of educational content (Erhel &Jamet, 2013).

Introducing video games into the classroom enhances many learning and teaching skills that can help elevate the educational experience of the classroom. This teaching method uses beneficial aspects of video games to transmit knowledge to students. It is based on three key factors:

  • It breathes life into education: it transforms learning into an enjoyable, thrilling game without boring lessons. Students assimilate and retain information almost without noticing.
  • It boosts motivation: students are the main characters in the story and their success is rewarded with medals, extra lives, bonuses, etc. This capture and keeps their interest in learning.
  • It gives opportunities to practice students can apply the knowledge they acquire without getting into dangerous situations. This is what flight and navigation simulators, for instance, are all about.

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Additionally, playing video games has a huge impact on the development of cognitive, collaboration, creative problem solving, and communication skills of students. The impact of video games on society has been the subject of numerous studies. For example, in 2014, Andrew Przybylski, a psychologist at the Internet Institute at Oxford University, published a study establishing how much time should children be allowed to devote to video gaming. He reports that those who played less than an hour were more emotionally stable, while those who played for around three hours a day developed social problems. Therefore, when it comes to video games, moderation is key, because as well as improving learning abilities, there are other benefits. Let's take a look at some of them:

  • They speed up response times: Researchers at Rochester University have found that they improve troubleshooting skills by posing problems that must be solved in a set time.
  • They encourage teamwork: According to the Californian organization, the Institute for the Future (IFTF), multiplayer games boost teamwork in problem-solving.
  • They stimulate creativity, focus, and visual memory: The University of California has found that they stimulate these aspects by setting goals that require concentration, imagination, and remembering details to achieve them.
  • They improve strategy and leadership: Video games put players in command, honing their abilities to resolve disputes, interact with other players and make decisions, found Pittsburgh University.
  • They teach languages: Helsinki University found that they are useful for learning other languages through on-screen instructions, chats for communicating with other players, or the narration of the story itself.
  • Critical thinking: Monterrey Institute of Technology published an article underlining the underlying ethical, philosophical and social basis of these games, and their ability to make players think and improve their critical thinking.

1.4 Unit 1 Reflection Task

Now that we have established what is game-based learning and why using educational video games is beneficial. For Your first reflection task, in a Google Docs file please respond to the following:

  • Create your own definition of game-based learning
  • How do you believe educational video games would support your pedagogical approaches and enhance your teaching methods?
  • How would you introduce educational video games in your classroom?

Please submit your reflection here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1JVD83cg8dTF3NQ7RQwreVkugOc3TZTVbK4JncaJgXy4/edit?usp=sharing

Click here Unit 2: Selecting Educational Video Games to navigate to the next unit of this course.


Griffiths, M. D. (2002). The educational benefits of videogames. Education and health, 20(3), 47-51.

Bawa, P. (2020). Game On!: Investigating Digital Game-Based Versus Gamified Learning in Higher Education. International Journal of Game-Based Learning (IJGBL), 10(3), 16-46.

Erhel, S., & Jamet, E. (2013). Digital game-based learning: Impact of instructions and feedback on motivation and learning effectiveness. Computers & education, 67, 156-167.

Maliqi, A., & Borincaj-Cruss, I. I. (2015). The Influence of Teachers on Increasing Student’s Motivation. Psychology, 6(08), 915.

Hung, C. Y., Sun, J. C. Y., & Yu, P. T. (2015). The benefits of a challenge: student motivation and flow experience in tablet-PC-game-based learning. Interactive Learning Environments, 23(2), 172-190.

Gee, J. P. (2005). Learning by design: Good video games as learning machines. E-learning and Digital Media, 2(1), 5-16.

Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. Computers in Entertainment (CIE), 1(1), 20-20.

Paraskeva, F., Mysirlaki, S., & Papagianni, A. (2010). Multiplayer online games as educational tools: Facing new challenges in learning. Computers & Education, 54(2), 498-505.

Linton, J. (2010). United States department of education update. Journal of Correctional Education, 186-188.

Rieber, L. P. (1996). Seriously considering play: Designing interactive learning environments based on the blending of microworlds, simulations, and games. Educational technology research and development, 44(2), 43-58.