I’ve been listening to the feedback my comments from the ‘AI in education’ talk have generated and would like to thank all those who have engaged in this discussion. This is an important topic that all stakeholders (students, parents, teachers, academics and the industry) really need to have to ensure that our young people are best prepared for their examinations, careers, and life.
I strongly believe game-based learning (GBL) has a significant role to play in education and enhance the learning experience for our students. It has many inherent benefits for the teacher but I agree that it cannot and will not replace good teaching. Contrary to what some may believe, I don’t think GBL is for everyone and I know it doesn’t work for everything that students need to learn. However, it works extremely well when carefully mixed with a range of other resources to make a wholesome lesson in a 21st-century classroom.
Having been part of the game-based learning industry over the last nine years, I can say with some conviction that it works. It works best in a blended environment where part of the lesson is online and part is offline – involving discussions, practical projects, and group-work. Of course, you will (for good reasons) see my opinion as biased, but this has also been recognised by many of the schools that we have a long-term relationship with. One example of a UK school can be found here.
The NSW Dept of Education in Australia also put digital game-based learning to the test involving almost 1500 students across 46 schools. One of the findings was:
“The teacher and student participants reported that Mangahigh had assisted in enhancing students’ mathematical learning. Eighty-three per cent of student survey respondents agreed that Mangahigh had improved their mathematics learning and 100 per cent of teachers stated that Mangahigh use had resulted in improved student learning outcomes.”
We all know that kids pick up and develop knowledge when they play skills games, however, it may not necessarily be relevant in an educational context. We at Mangahigh have tried to learn from how kids learn in those games and applied it to the national curriculum. One of our learnings is that with a well-designed GBL solution, you don’t need to front-load instruction as it is seamlessly weaved into the game environment, which students can access on-demand.
With games, the traditional cycle of plan-instruct-assess doesn’t happen once a lesson, but 15-20 times during a lesson and it is unique to each player. Students work at their own pace and the cognitive load is managed dynamically based on their velocity of learning. Teachers track student progress using built-in analytics, and provide 1:1 or mini-group instruction to students who need it the most. GBL also solves whole group instruction challenges by allowing students to safely fail forward and work in a self-paced environment where it’s not just about instant gratification but instant feedback and support. Our game-play data across millions of students each month shows that students attempt any given activity on-average three times, even when the expectation from the teacher is to do it just once. We then add in the artificial intelligence layer to work along with the teachers to help fill gaps in students’ knowledge – and the magic starts to happen!
While I, along with the other team members at Mangahigh (educators, teachers, game designers, programmers), are extremely proud of what we’ve built, we are fully cognizant of the fact that the technology so far has not made huge inroads in education and the industry has failed educators on several occasions before. We, therefore, think it is essential that ed tech companies engage with the community and be constantly collecting feedback from the teachers and incorporate the latest education research. At the same time, we also need to innovate in areas where there may not yet be any research. The words of Sir Ken Robinson come to mind here:
“If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original.”
We have enrolled in the EDUCATE program to work with educators and academics to run independent efficacy studies in order to help us improve our product and ensure that we are best preparing students for their examinations, careers, and life.
If you are passionate about ed tech, have ideas on how we can improve the lives of our learners, or want to be part of our efficacy study on game-based learning in mathematics, please drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mohit Midha is the CEO and co-founder of Mangahigh.com