In games, players need to solve problems, practise skills and respond to feedback.
Pedagogically, gaming and other immersive technologies can offer exciting opportunities for engagement, allowing students to test hypotheses and actions through simulations and accrue credits and feedback along the way.
The term “immersive technologies” often refers to virtual reality, where participants are mentally, emotionally or physically immersed in an artificial environment.
With immersive technologies, users develop a sense of presence. In educational contexts, examples include Second Life, Minecraft and virBela. Some educational institutions have developed their own immersive worlds such as St George’s Advanced Patient Simulator (GAPS), rather than using existing services.
Medicine and nursing, in particular, have made good use of simulation technologies to help students practise on virtual patients, minimising the risks associated with practise on real people.
Online courses can adopt or incorporate aspects of gaming, for example by emulating points, badges and leader boards through ‘open badging.’
This is where online courses offer badges as learners progress through a course, and allow them to display these as achievements (see Mozilla open badging and Badging on OpenLearn by the Open University).
This guide outlines open badges in more detail in the section about online assessment.
Communities and collaborative play
Developing communities and opportunities for collaborative play is another example of a gaming approach to online learning that can be incorporated into learning through social networking technologies.
A key aspect of using gaming and immersive technologies in online learning is to make sure students can access them on their own devices. More and more services and tools are becoming available that enable teachers or learners to create their own games, and they are likely to continue to gain traction as educational devices. For example:
- Aris creates mobile learning games using an open-source platform
- Zondle and Quia popular and simple quiz-and-game creation and sharing services.
Some recent examples from further education include:
- 'Learning Lounge', by Navigator Productions Ltd
Education video and multi-choice quizzes covering all aspects of electrical and plumbing studies
- 'Simventure', by Venture Simulations Ltd
A business game that allows students to create and run a virtual company to learn about entrepreneurship
- E-learning and virtual reality simulations, by Skills2Learn Ltd
A suite of e-learning and training programmes with cover a number of vocational subjects
- 'Stock market challenge,' by 10 Lane Learning Ltd
A suite of financial markets simulations, which includes global investor, dealing room and trading floor
- ‘The Climate Game’ and ‘Young People First’, by Games-Ed
A suite of game-based educational software that facilitates collaborative ways of working to solve issues affecting communities and organisations. These include the ‘cause and effect’ of issues affecting young people and the social, environmental and economic consequences of climate change.
|Barriers||What you can do|
|Lack of skills within the institution to develop or incorporate games.||Use external developers to design games|
|Adapt existing technologies to include gaming approaches|
|Identify ongoing research and projects by other institutions.|
|Difficulties supporting students using externally provided platforms.||Establish peer support mechanisms between staff, online students and external contributors.|