The Basics Of Games Based Learning And Its Impact In American Education

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We live in a world where a screen is always in our face. How many times have we seen someone walk across the street while glaring at their cell phone? In most households a computer, tablet, Xbox, or Playstation is likely in a child’s bedroom. Finding entertainment by reading under a lamp, or playing a casual board game is over. The world is evolving, as is the world in education. Welcome to the Digital Age. 

What is Games-Based Learning?

Students that are brought into the schools live in a generation of watching YouTube, playing Royal Panda, and skimming through Tik Tok.. A high percentage of students, and adults, get their news from non-paper platforms. In what we can call the technological age of time, a modern education system uses technology to impart education. As technology has grown, the amount of games that are accessible to the device has risen as well. Games are meant for fun, and are pivotal to the social and emotional growth of students. However, what we are also seeing is the growth of games implemented into the classroom as an academic facilitator to offer students more opportunities. 

Game-based learning (GBL) is defined as activities that have a game at their core, and have learning as a desired or incidental outcome. GBL offers opportunities for students to engage in experiential learning across the context of the game in the classroom. Because games help students develop a schema for academic material, it can be a resource for scaffolding. As learning progresses, kids are able to make decisions and be placed in a different role which allows them to control aspects of their own learning. 

The Evolution of GBL

New gadgets in the Indian market did not happen overnight, and it has actually been slightly making an impact within the classroom for decades. The first ever educational games company, LOGO, was created in 1967 by Wally Feuzeig, Seymour Papert, and Cynthia Solomon. LOGO was implemented as a math and early computer programming instrument in schools by 1970. 

In 1971, the Oregon Trail was created, but did not become a hit in American schools until the 1980s. The Oregon Trail quickly became a hot game as it was integrated into history lessons, and was consistently used within the early 2000s. Also, during the 1980s, games such as Reader Rabbit and Clue Finder were created by The Learning Company. The late 80s featured Carmen SanDiego, a geography based learning game, and Math Blasters, an interactive shooting game that featured learners shooting answers to mental math computation. In 1984, the CD-ROM was created, and its ability to enhance graphics was deemed essential, but it was not until 1989 where SIMS games, which were game-based simulations, took the idea of graphics into account. 

The World Wide Web

The World Wide Web was created in 1991, but the Internet did not blast off games right away. It took eight years before the first ever reality video game was created. The game Whyville was implemented in elementary schools in 1999. As the new millennium passed, the era of “Brain Games” began to take off. Games such as Brain Age, Big Brain Academy, and Lumosity were created. These games were used as free time games with the claims that their high use of memorization and drill helped develop the brain.  

It was our present decade where we saw GBL really take liftoff. In 2010, the Apple iPad was created and was put in schools, mainly K-2, by 2011. The Chromebook became the school’s largest supplier by 2012. Many schools started integrating the game Minecraft in 2012 and 2013, and now schools are growing across the MinecraftEDU movement. Minecraft became the foundational game that sparked other games such as Starcraft, Hour of Code, and many others being implemented within the curriculum of formal learning in what we now see as the growing trend of GBL. 

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