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The role of educational games in education for the 21st century

Just how important are educational games to learning?

If you had asked this question in the early 1900s, you would have gotten the answer: "Games aren’t at all critical in education." But more than 100 years later the answer has changed. Educational Games are becoming more important in education for the 21st century than most people realize.

Circumstances that necessitate the use of games in learning

The education system today has been the same for a couple of centuries. Students sit in a class, and teachers try to "hammer" their knowledge into them. They do this by using lectures and sometimes writing on their boards. Children have to sit through multiple lessons as the teachers do this continuously almost every day. In the Asian culture, this is typically normal, and children are often told that answers need to be memorized.

Unfortunately, this is a very dull method, and some students have been known to let their minds wander to other things. After all, anything is better than listening to the teacher’s monotonous voice all day. There is also no way of knowing if everybody is paying attention. As a result of a lack of attention, children may end up learning very little of what teachers say.

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Recently, whole new ways of pedagogies has been considered for a shift in how we think of education for the 21st century. Whole new styles of pedagogies have arisen around adaptive learning, embodied learning and is seen to drive new required skills as described by Teachthought, a leading blog for teachers. (reference). The use of games to maximize these types of learning may bring about a change in these circumstances and lead to the improvement of education.

Importance of games in learning

How would a student benefit from games in learning? Teachers employ games in classrooms with a goal in mind. They want to increase the level of engagement and interest each child has in the lessons. Once a child is more interested in what they are doing, they are more likely to pay attention and learn from it. The lessons could even be hidden in the games, and they don’t realize that they pick them up as they go along.

This is at the heart of educational entertainment. By games being fun, children will tend to remember them for long. They will also not forget the lessons that came with such games.

Governments have started to take note starting with the Singapore Government. The change of the education system focuses to reduce dependence on assessments. With a renewed focus on life-long learning, things can only get better. Reference

With a goal to inspire learners by making learning a part of a person's past time entertainment, Soqqle was awarded a Singapore government sponsored grant to create a platform where institutions could plug into to easily create a gamified environment. Soqqle recently showcased their revolutionary educational game in EduTech Asia 2018 in Suntec Singapore. Check them out here.

Bringing Study to Life

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Adaptive Learning: A student can grow his creative prowess when there are a few ways to solve a problem. Scenarios can be tailored to use previously gained knowledge to progress in stages. After encountering a few scenarios like this, students learn to relate already acquired knowledge to issues at hand. This is a crucial life skill that everyone should develop at an early age.

Cooperative Learning: Team games can enhance the spirit of cooperation between individuals. Another potential benefit is that in teams, children can realize both their strengths and weaknesses and those of others. This might be a perfect lesson early in life for them to understand that they need others to succeed.

However for cooperative learning to be successful, mentioned in a study by Johnson and Johnson (2009) learners have to learn these:

  1. Structuring positive interdependence: No one wins unless everyone wins
  2. promotive interaction: Facilitate and encourage efforts
  3. individual accountability: Personal responsibility to contribute to collective effort
  4. Interpersonal skills: Listening, sharing ideas, commenting positively, democratic decision making
  5. Group processing: Reflecting on working relationship and progress

Games has done extremely well in the adoption of adaptive and cooperative learning. Often before you can beat a difficult boss, gamers have to complete a sequence of activities from gaining new skills (often requiring techniques required to beat the boss) as well as teaming up regularly with friends so coordination is the most effective. The result of beating the boss to gain even cooler items to progress to the next level as a team is even more satifying as often it leads gamers closer to the end game where riches are "promised".

Real life Learning can be structured in a similar fashion with encouragement to get to the "end game" and identifying common friends to join them in their journey. In today's society however this is often difficult due to several circumstances around families, educational systems, governments. But with the rise of technology and entertainment sports (esports) - technology has proven that it has a high potential to break traditional barriers.

We talk deeper into how games can bring personalization, grading and introductory tips for designing games here.

Conclusion.
Teachers who have started using games in classrooms are already seeing the benefits. Despite being few, they are acting as motivation for others to start. In the end, all that matters is a quality education. If games form part of the way to do that the world should consider having them in all classroom settings. To join our Soqqle Beta which aims to do this, sign up here.

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The role of educational games in education for the 21st century
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