Applying Instructional Theories/Strategies in Game Based Learning

I have always been in favor of game based learning materials because I feel games make an everlasting impact. You learn to play a game much easily than anything else. This is because in games there is so much interactivity, so much entertainment, that you just cannot forget it.

This post is a quick overview of a game based course and an illustration of how instructional theories and strategies work in game based learning.

The game based course I am going to discuss is about Simple Machines.

I am sure you must have read about simple machines in your school text books. You would have read something similar to the material found in this link:Simple Machines

If you notice, content in this link flows logically and has all the information you need about simple machines. There are graphical representations too. Yet it doesn’t make an impact. You read it once and then you forget it. This is because you cannot relate to it. You do use simple machines in real life. Yet all the information about simple machines sounds so technical and distant from real life.

I found a short interactive course on simple machines posted in the blog of elearning tyro.

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I really liked the way this course has been designed. There is so much of learner participation and the concept of simple machines has been made relevant in the context of real life. There is very less text but the impact is just too much.

Here is a brief overview of the course and the instructional strategy and theory used.

The Task Based Approach has been used in the course. In a Task Based Approach you:

  • Present an activity/ problem to learners
  • Allow learners to gain information by performing the task/activity

The course is set in five different locations– the garage, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, toolshed.

The main page of the course lists down the locations and you can decide where you want to go first.

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For example click Garage and you will notice the backdrop switch to the respective setting. A talking head then briefs you on the task that needs to be done. The talking head engages you well and the voice over substitutes the on screen instruction text.

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The task is engaging and simple. All you need to do is identify the simple machines in the garage, kitchen, bedroom or bathroom. If you move your mouse cursor, you get a hint in the form of the hand icon which indicates where you need to click.The number of simple machines available is also mentioned. Click on any simple machine a dialog box pops up which has a couple of questions. For example click on the red and white gate in the garage.

Questions prompting to identify the type of simple machine and its working mechanism appear. All the questions are specific to the object you selected.

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Once you answer, you get feedback.

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Then the concept is explained.

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Of course you get your score too.

The same strategy is used throughout this course.

At least 7 out of Gagne’s Nine Events of Instructions has been applied in this course.

  1. The course gains your attention through visual appeal and of course there is the talking head that engages you.
  2. The talking head informs you of the objective which is to identify the simple machines.
  3. The task is set in a familiar setting such as bedroom, bathroom and so on. This stimulates prior learning – You identify simple machines in familar tools, devices you use everyday; you identify the working mechanism of simple machines in day to day activities.
  4. The concept of simple machines is presented in an engaging fashion using graphics, audio and simple animation.
  5. The examples used in the course are too close to real life. Therefore there is ample learning guidance.
  6. The questions provide a chance for you to confirm their understanding of the concept.
  7. The immediate feedback and the explanation of the concept helps you grasp the concept quickly.

Try this course at: http://edheads.org/activities/simple-machines/index.htm

Also please go through the course on Compound Machines too. This is just too good.

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