Game On! Comparing Game-Based and Gamified Learning

In the quest for engaging and effective digital learning, two popular approaches come to mind: game-based learning (GBL) and gamified learning (GL). While both leverage game elements, their design, objectives, and outcomes differ significantly. Choosing the right one depends on the required learning objectives. So let’s break down their differences and help you decide which champion will level up your learners.

Game-Based Learning: Play to Learn

Digital game-based learning utilizes immersive digital environments where learning and gameplay intertwine seamlessly. Players navigate stories woven with educational objectives, actively shaping their journey through choices and problem-solving.

Many researchers have explored the impact of digital games on learning effects in different STEM subjects. According to a 2022 study published in the International Journal of STEM Education, digital game-based learning had a moderately significant effect on students’ STEM learning achievement. However, the study noted that like other instructional approaches, educators should adequately consider goals for learning and methods of integrating digital games most effectively into the STEM classroom to promote students’ learning achievements.

The National Science Foundation proposes that STEM learning games have become a new way of learning in K-12 education and are suitable tools for teaching STEM disciplines

Some factors that make game-based learning more effective are:

  • Engaging Narratives:
  • Stories captivate players, engaging them in scenarios where they must apply what they know or have learned to move ahead. Such narratives in games can enhance students’ learning motivation, improve their understanding of knowledge concepts, and cultivate their problem-solving abilities.

  • Interactivity:
  • Learners aren’t passive spectators; they’re active participants. A 2021 study by Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute found that active or interactive learning techniques encourage students to think and get feedback through interactive sessions rather than passively receiving information as is common in pervasive approaches to education like lectures and readings. This resulted in improved academic performance compared to traditional teaching methods.

  • Progression:
  • Challenging levels with increasing complexity test and hone skills, driving a sense of accomplishment and motivating progress. Progression systems are a crucial aspect of game design, playing a significant role in maintaining player engagement and ensuring a fulfilling gaming experience. A well-designed progression system stokes the player’s desire to advance and triggers an upward spiral of engagement. The promise of a more challenging level, or a higher leaderboard position keeps the game alive in the player’s mind, driving retention.

  • Immediate Feedback:
  • Games provide instant feedback on performance, allowing learners to learn from mistakes and iterate quickly. A 2020 study published in IJERE states that continuous feedback plays an important role in assisting students to accomplish their learning goals and improve their learning performance.
Game-based learning works best for:

  • Mastery of complex concepts in STEM subjects:
  • Learning these disciplines has been considered to be difficult and challenging due to their complex, abstract, and multi-dimensional nature. Digital games are considered to have great potential to meet these challenges and positively impact students’ learning gains and attitudes.

  • Understanding through Immersion:
  • Bringing historical events or scientific concepts to life through interactive narratives can deepen comprehension and engagement.

  • In-Depth Knowledge through Practice:
  • Games can provide engaging drills and scenarios to solidify mastery of complex concepts.

Gamified Learning: Motivation through Points and Badges

Gamified learning doesn’t create entire worlds; it adds game elements like points, badges, and leaderboards onto existing content. These gamification elements increase engagement and motivation among learners. It’s the catalyst that transforms mundane course material into engaging quests.

Let’s take a look at a few of these elements:

  • Points and Badges:
  • Earning rewards for completing tasks or achieving milestones fuels a sense of accomplishment and drives continued engagement. Research indicates that gamification can improve learning outcomes by 45.5%.

  • Competition:
  • Leaderboards pit learners against peers, fostering healthy competition and motivating them to push their limits. Learners, while pursuing their individual learning goals, engage in a competition with their peers, motivated by the desire to win. Furthermore, leaderboards foster a spirit of camaraderie and collaboration. This collaborative spirit enriches the learning experience creating a dynamic learning environment.

  • Progress Tracking:
  • Visualizing progress through dashboards and levels provides a sense of purpose and motivates learners to continue their journey. These provide learners with a visual roadmap, showcasing their advancements and illuminating the path ahead. This dynamic visualization also fosters a positive feedback loop, igniting a desire to delve deeper into the subject matter.

  • Customization:
  • Some gamified platforms allow learners to personalize their learning path, catering to individual preferences and learning styles. This autonomy further fuels engagement.

    Gamified learning works best when:

  • Skill Reinforcement Needs a Boost:
  • It can add a layer of engagement to existing training programs, especially when reinforcing previously learned skills.

  • Microlearning is used:
  • For bite-sized learning modules, gamified elements can motivate learners to complete them and retain information.

  • Cost-Effectiveness Matters:
  • Adding game elements to existing content can be more cost-effective than developing full-fledged games.

The Quest for the Perfect Approach:

Game-based and gamified learning are powerful tools, but choosing the right one is key to unlocking learner potential. The choice between these approaches isn’t mutually exclusive; it’s a strategic alliance. Training needs, audience, and resources need to be considered before making a choice.

Remember, Mitr Learning & Media is here to guide you on your quest for engaging and effective training solutions. We have the expertise to craft customized programs that combine the best of both worlds, ensuring your learners achieve their full potential. So, let’s embark on this learning adventure together and create training experiences that are not only effective but also unforgettable!

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