Game-based learning, or GBL, is an educational approach that uses games (often computer/video games) to teach students in a fun, engaging and motivational way. GBL integrates learning and game play, so that the learning objective is integral to the game, and the game is an integral part of the learning process. A major goal of GBI is for students to enjoy the learning process, and learn more effectively.
Students are at the center of GBL, making them active learners, and more likely to retain information than passive learners. In game-based learning, students work toward a goal. They choose actions and experience the consequences of those actions. They have to think quickly and logically. Many games have simulated environments. In good game-based learning, students can transfer the skills they’ve obtained from a simulated environment to real life. Game-based learning helps build problem solving and critical thinking skills. It also encourages student collaboration.
There are many different games that teach many different subjects. In the game “Do I Have a Right?” students run a law firm and have to figure out if any of their clients’ rights have been violated. In the game “Our City,” players build and develop a city while keeping residents happy. The game “Reach for the Sun” is about photosynthesis, and “Zombie-Based Learning” teaches geography. Teachers can also create their own games. In a finance course, for example, they can host a virtual stock-trading competition.
Game-based learning is beneficial for EFL students, as it requires them to practice their English reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. Games can also be used to teach EFL students grammar in a fun and engaging way, making grammar rules easier to understand and apply.
While many students are afraid of failure in the classroom, most don’t mind making mistakes while playing a game. Games are all about trial and error. Students learn through repetition, failure and the accomplishment of goals.
With GBL, students learn by doing. They have to think and analyze, and not just memorize.