The Malta Independent 3 March 2024, Sunday
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Game changers: Empowering education through gamification

Tuesday, 23 May 2023, 10:40 Last update: about 11 months ago

The initial months of 2020, marked by an unprecedented global pandemic, seem distant in retrospect. When the world came to a standstill, people were confined to their homes, presented with all the processes which were previously taken for granted. We were suddenly all facing a spectacular challenge, and no less in the field of education. Within a short span of time, schools and educators had to swiftly adapt and discover innovative approaches to ensure continued learning for their students.

The transition to online learning presented particular difficulties in teaching subjects that heavily relied on face-to-face interactions. However, several educational institutions around the world embraced innovation and utilized videogames like Minecraft as a means to deliver lessons during these unprecedented times. This shift provided an opportunity to explore and maximize the potential of videogames as a digital learning environment.

Fast forward three years, it is estimated that schools in over half of the countries worldwide have now incorporated this popular videogame into their classrooms. Another example is Kahoot!, a game-based learning platform that enables teachers to create interactive quizzes and activities to assess and reinforce students' knowledge. Additionally, games like Roblox, Scratch and are now used to teach programming and computational thinking skills.

At a recent symposium hosted by the European Commission Representation in Malta, Transform-Ed, industry experts and educators highlighted how the utilisation of games in an educational setting not only makes learning enjoyable but also fosters critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration among students. The integration of video games in the educational setting holds promise for enhancing skills, knowledge and attitudes, provided that an appropriate environment is established. Careful selection of the suitable video game and the creation of a learning-conducive environment are crucial factors in making this work.

By incorporating games into education, individuals can effectively break down complex scenarios and anticipate potential solutions. This approach equips them with the necessary abilities to analyze cause-and-effect relationships, evaluating the impact of their own actions or the actions of others on a given situation.

Speaking at the Transform-Ed symposium, Tammie Schrader, a science and computer science coordinator for the State of Washington emphasized the need for more discussion about the authentic and integral use of technology in education. She argued that through technology, students can learn to create, innovate, and automate. It encourages them to think outside the box, push boundaries and conceptualize new ideas.

Through interactive workshops, 320 participants worked with various experts exploring several games which can be incorporated in an educational setting for children with different learning abilities. While some students absorb information effectively through reading, others succeed when actively participating in the learning process. For those who prefer the reading approach, classroom games incorporating written content such as directions, stories, or scenarios can enhance comprehension. Conversely, experiential learners can delve into classroom concepts through activities that directly apply the principles being taught. Students who excel in explaining and discussing ideas with their peers can benefit from collaborative games or activities that involve team communication. The use of games in the educational system does not diminish the centrality of the educator, who remains essential in guiding and facilitating the learning process.

By incorporating a variety of games and learning activities, educators provide each student with an opportunity to engage with the material in a manner that aligns with their unique learning style.

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