Using games to teach and practice skills is a technique as old as recorded history. Chess was used as far back as the Middle Ages to teach strategy. Invented by Hindu spiritual leaders in the 13th century, the game Snakes and Ladders, originally called Mokshapat, was designed to help children understand the effects of good and bad deeds.
Fast forward a few centuries filled with mind-blowing technological advances and children began using digital games as educational tools. The Oregon Trail was first released in late 1971 and was designed specifically to teach children about pioneer life. With these games, and countless others through the ages, children were engaged, focused, and learning. Game-based learning is nothing new but today’s educational platforms are designed with the modern student in mind.Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay
Games rely on repetition, failure, and clear goals to teach and practice skills but the main reason they work is because they are fun! A survey by NPD found that 91% of American kids play video games and that number is on the rise, especially among the 2-5 year old set. Kids don’t play video games because they learn from them but learning because of them is a force that educators have been tapping into for decades.
When kids start playing a new video game, they start slow and learn the necessary skills needed to achieve objectives. As their skills improve, they level up, reaching for goals that are increasingly harder to attain. Kids show grit, fortitude, and ingenuity as they continue playing against harder and harder challenges. They are engaged and active in learning the game and that knowledge sticks when they approach the game the next time around.
This grit, fortitude, and ingenuity transfers beautifully into an educational format. The fact that players are engaged and active working toward a specifically designed learning objective means that kids retain more and are driven to play. This starts a positive cycle of learning and practicing, again and again.
Video games offer a safe environment for kids to try new skills and strategies without the pressure sometimes felt in a more traditional pencil-to-paper method. They don’t feel like they are being graded and are free from the fear of failing in front of their classmates. Game-based learning allows children to fail in an effective way. The very act of failing helps them understand that they made a mistake and that they have to correct that mistake in order to progress in the game. Learning from our mistakes is a priceless life skill that this effective failure quality of game-based learning fosters in students.
We are living in the technological wild west. In order to make students future ready, we have to give them access to modern learning tools that are reflective of current research, standards, and methodologies. Game-based learning is one of the critical components of that picture. Although still in use, more and more publishers are moving towards digital publication of textbooks and supporting materials. It makes perfect sense. Printed textbooks take a great deal of time to write, print, and distribute to schools. The result is that information is sometimes outdated before the students even begin using the material. Digital formats, of textbooks or educational games, are adaptive to society. They can be updated to incorporate new information, strategies, standards, and research.
Game-based learning is adaptive to the individual learner as well. With a user profile, a player is tracked so that the platform delivers game content at the appropriate level. Further, objectives can often be tailored to the student’s needs as determined by the teacher or parent. Progress and goal achievement is readily available so that all necessary parties have access to a wealth of data to better serve the student.
Game-based learning platforms are often categorized in one of two ways: short-form or long-form. Short-form games are designed and played to practice a particular skill and can be completed in a short period of time. Long-form games are research based and aligned with state and national standards. They are meant to be played repeatedly as a student progresses through the learning objectives. High quality educational games meet the student at their level rather than offering a one-size-fits-all approach.Image by Pexels from Pixabay
MathBRIX is a digital math platform that offers learners aged 4-8 years old fun, but challenging games for hours of engagement. Designed to be played solo, students find themselves in a safe environment where they can try out newly attained skills. Failure is merely the opportunity to try again, fostering grit, determination, and the valuable life skill of learning from mistakes.
MathBRIX is completely adaptive, giving players just the right amount of challenge to suit their experience. If they are struggling, MathBRIX will slow things down. If they are racing ahead, MathBRIX will pick up the pace. Intelligent scaffolding means that every learner gets what they need, when they need it.
Aligned with Common Core, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards, MathBRIX is a long-form digital learning platform that works well in classrooms and at home. Perfect for a learning center rotation or for a few extra minutes of fun, conceptual learning at home, MathBRIX is a great complement to any modern math curriculum.
Games have been used by educators and parents for generations as a means to an educational end. Tapping into the undeniably engaging aspect of video games to help students learn or practice skills is a method widely used in today’s classroom. Game-based learning is effective, adaptive, and most of all, fun for students of every kind.