attended the conference “Frontiers in Education FIE2014” and wanted to share part of the conversations that we had with other people interested in education coming from 48 different countries.
One of the things that was discussed the most was how to promote welcoming and effective learning environments that are appealing to the new generations but that also maintain the development of the required contend knowledge, as well as, the desired skills.
One thing that was common in different topics and presentations was the use of attractive (or interesting) assignments. I think it was really interesting to see how many investigators from different disciplines, countries, and cultures, were repeating the same thing: “we need to spend some time developing interesting assignments.” It has been demonstrated in several research projects that assignment that are challenging, entertaining, and relate to students interests can be a very strong factor to motivate students in the learning process.
One of the strategies proposed to create effective and attractive assignments it’s the use of gaming. One advantage of developing games so students can “play” when doing their assignments is that they have to discover what it is that they are being assessed, they are not being told what lesson they are responding to, they need to figure it out being able to see the big picture. In addition, students learn that there is a specific goal to learn when playing, that translates in finding the applicability of knowledge to solve a problem rather than memorizing.
Another advantage of using games is that games are fun, people when gaming is more able to be collaborative. They need to work together to solve the game, without collaboration is very complicated to come to a solution, therefore the classroom is more inclusive to minorities.
Finally, another advantage regarding using games as assignments is that students learn that it is ok to fail. Failure sometimes is seen, especially in engineering as a bad thing, or as something to avoid under any circumstance. By gaming, students understand that failure is an option, and can prepare to face it. A lesson that will help them when they need to face the real world.
I invite you to check out this website that have a lot of valuable information regarding how to develop games with pedagogical purposes.