Humphrey Watson, a writer, submitted the article below for publication on my blog. I find it an interesting read in general, as it highlights the fact that simple games, sometimes, are better than complex ones to increase learner retention and attention…
From old-school to new-school: Bingo! Video games remain popular as educational tools
A challenge educators face daily: how to make learning fun
One big hurdle that a lot of educators inevitably come across is the fact that some students just don’t take to specific subjects as easily as others. In K12 schools, Math is a good example. In the corporate world, think of that compliance training! How do you teach an otherwise dry and sometimes boring subject matter to disinterested students? Why, by turning it into a game, of course!
Using casual games to teach isn’t at all a novel concept. Remember The Oregon Trail and bingo? The educational benefits of the latter, which has been in use inside classrooms for longer than most of us have been alive, can even trace its roots back to Germany. During the 1800s, German teachers started to incorporate bingo into their classes to teach math, spelling, and history.
Consider the simple game of Bingo. Thanks to its easy-to-learn gameplay mechanics, customizability, and the added fun factor in yelling out “Bingo!” every time you form a line), bingo has had great success as an educational tool. From maths to music, geography to geology, bingo can be adapted into a teaching tool for a wide range of subjects. Simplicity is key!
In addition to the borderline obscene amounts of money that bingo companies spend to promote their games (Gaming Realms recently poured millions of pounds into the BingoGodz; ad campaign), the simplicity and adaptability of the casual game mechanics into different contexts has kept this sort of game alive through the years.
New advances in technology have also pushed the “serious games” industry to new and greater heights. Numerous studies, including a recent one from NYU and CUNY, have found that video games can be highly effective in motivating students to learn less popular subjects.
Educational institutions, foundations, and even the government are taking notice. GlassLab;, a California-based non-profit that works out of gaming giant Electronic Arts, has been given $10.3 million by The Gates and MacArthur Foundations to create educational games. GlassLab is not alone, either. It’s just one of many such developers found all over the United States.
Thanks to these new developments, the field of education is certainly shaping up to be an exciting one for educators and students all over the world.