How Game-based Learning Is Transforming the College Classroom
Walk down just about any college dorm hallway, and you’re likely to hear the sounds of video games.
Of course it’s no surprise college students spend a lot of time gaming, but videos games are starting to pop up elsewhere in academia; namely, the classroom. Here’s what’s happening in the new field of Game-based Learning, and how some colleges are now taking to it…
At Boston College, nursing students play video games that simulate crime-scene forensics. At Northern Illinois, students use videos games to design virtual race vehicles that must successfully maneuver a set of increasingly difficult courses. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, students learn how to compose music using a game called “Melody Mixer.”
More broadly, the University of Florida utilizes the strategy game “StarCraft” to teach critical thinking, problem solving, resource management and adaptive decision making. Recruiters in nearly every industry will tell you that those are key skills they look in applicants.
The idea of game-based learning isn’t new, just the application of it on a collegiate level.
Researchers contend that videos games used in conjunction with learning actively and deeply engage students on an individual level. They give immediate feedback when a mistake is made. They also better allow students to transfer what is learned in a simulation to real-world situations .
Compare that to book-based learning, where one has to read and retain dense information in a thick textbook. Even if a student can absorb 100 percent of the text, absent is the experience of applying the material in real-life situations.
Researchers also say that game-based learning teaches in students’ language and in a preferred medium of learning. Fact is, college students play videos games a lot. And it’s been that way for a while.
A Pew Research Center study in 2003 found that 65% of the 1,162 students surveyed reported playing video games regularly. More pertinent to present and future college students, a 2010 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 60% of kids between the ages 8-18 play videos games an average of 2 hours a day.
That amount of time is viewed by many as a legitimate threat to students’ academic advancement. But while some see video games as a red flag, others see videos as an opportunity.
The U.S. Education Department is a prominent backer of game-based learning. It recommends immediate experimentation with game-based learning (in addition to other computer based learning such as online tutors, social networks and immersive environments) within and across educations institutions from elementary school to college.
Perhaps more tellingly, private sector support of game-based learning is growing too. Two prominent philanthropist foundations – John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – have made contributions to The Institute of Play, a nonprofit organization that promotes and designs games that develop personal and social skills in high schools.
For colleges and university classrooms, the adoption of Game-based Learning may be well underway, with applications established in the disciplines of Engineering, Music, Nursing, Business (“Business Simulation Games”), and Architecture and Design.
Simply ask your college admissions officer(s) where they stand on Game-based Learning initiatives.
To your college funding & admissions success,
Co-Founder, College Planning Network LLC
Publisher, CollegeMadeSimple.com – The free educational resource of College Planning Network
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