Fun learning - it's all in the game
"Using games to make learning enjoyable isn't a new idea," writes Jan Webb, TES ICT specialist. "But the definition of games-based learning has shifted over recent years. When I started teaching, there weren't computers in my classroom - the internet hadn't even been invented. But we played games. We used what we had, from bingo in the back of exercise books to hangman on the blackboard."
Games - analogue or digital - fall into three categories: motivating, mediating and making learning. www.reviseict.co.uk has a wide range of Flash games: HoopShoot, Beat 'da Bomb, Penalty Shootout and Grade or no Grade alongside classics such as Space Invaders, all designed to test students' knowledge. If a question is answered correctly, the reward is a gamble for a higher grade, the chance to beat the clock, to score a goal or shoot a hoop.
Console games also provide rich data-handling contexts, or can be studied to understand player interactivity. But games-based learning does not have to involve the internet or consoles.
A number of adaptable PowerPoint games have been shared on TES Resources. There are old classics including Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, Wipeout and Blockbuster for whole-class revision fun. Or you could turn the game design over to students using Kodu or Scratch.
Jan Webb's article on games-based learning is available online now.