The most effective educational tools immerse the student in the material, enveloping them with sights and sounds to stimulate their minds. No matter their age, an interactive educational experience that draws on multiple senses enforces the learning process and makes the material more readily absorbed. In this modern age of technological innovation, where software is pushing our limitations further than ever before, gaming technology has become a significant tool in the effectiveness of education and the learning process, particularly in the online space.
Although the thought of education can conjure the image of an institution in stasis, an endeavor stuck in its ways, history says otherwise. In fact, education has been in a state of constant evolution throughout modern times, transforming itself from an exclusive privilege for few to a multi-billion dollar industry desired by many.
That said, the natural progression of education has led it to the online universe and, ultimately, to the very cutting edge of what technology has to offer. Gaming, no longer suffering under the weight of a reputation born from dark arcades and rolls of quarters, represents that cutting edge. With its ability to fully engage the user, immersing them into the game's environment, gaming is a natural, logical progression for education as it harnesses the power of technology to propel it into the future.
The Unique Ability to Engage
Gaming in education, a component of the broader concept of gamification, has been steadily gaining traction in the e-learning environment since the beginning of the decade . However, with the rapid advancements in platform learning and the relative ease in integrating gaming modules into such platforms, gaming has recently taken a quantum leap in popularity and adoption rates.
Institutions and educators that have already integrated gaming into coursework have noted a more intense level of engagement with the students while it fosters the ability to adapt and think in more nonlinear, immediate ways, much like is demanded of a dynamic, fast-paced society. In other words, educators have found that infusing gaming into particular courses, lesson plans or concepts generates a more in-depth understanding of the material while also better preparing their students for the demands of career and life.
To that point, a growing number of college-level professors are integrating gaming technology into their courses , recognizing its unique appeal and power when utilized in particular instances to intensify engagement and retention in their students. Continued reluctance by institutions and instructors to embrace gaming into coursework is largely due to unfamiliarity with the games themselves and the best ways to use it within a lesson plan .
The Evidence Speaks for Itself
Gaming in education is not merely a clever tool to occupy a student's time or space in a lesson plan. In fact, recent studies have provided the evidence to support gaming's significant impact on learning when employed in an effective manner.
In a study conducted by the University of Colorado , gaming among adult learners resulted in 14 percent higher skill-based knowledge assessments, 11 percent higher factual knowledge of the material and a 9 percent boost in overall material retention. Furthermore, with nearly 80 percent of students stating their education would be more productive if elements of gaming were integrated into lessons , it's clear that gaming is seen as an extremely useful tool from a student's perspective.
An additional study conducted in undergraduate business courses at Marymount University further demonstrated the significant impact gaming can provide to student performance and retention . Charting the difference in course performance over three separate classes, students that had elements of gaming integrated into the coursework had mean final class grades 12 percent, 17 percent, and 21 percent higher than those who did not. Students of both genders and different ethnic backgrounds all displayed comparable results.
It's a dynamic, quickly evolving world where time is an extremely valued commodity with high demands and dwindling supply. While online education will continue to grow and thrive in the coming decades due to its convenience and ever-increasing capacity to provide an outstanding educational experience, the tools and techniques used in such efforts will also continue to evolve. Gaming will be at the center of these efforts as institutions look for means of providing students the type of education demanded in these frenzied times.
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