Author: Richin S Kottaram | Assistant Manager (eLearning), IIM Ahmedabad

As educators, we always find ourselves wondering: how do we make learning more fun? Enter the concept of game-based learning (GBL). Here is all you need to know about what it is, and how it can make course material more engaging for everyone.

So, what is game-based learning?

GBL taps into the power of games to support learning outcomes. Instructors design games with relevant course material, making it more engaging across online and offline formats.

Gamification vs. Game-Based Learning

Instructors use both these concepts to keep learners motivated throughout their journey. However, there is a slight difference between gamification and GBL:

Gamification: The integration of game mechanics (like points, leader boards, and badges) into learning frameworks. One example of this is adding badges into discussion boards to encourage more learners to keep the community engaged. So, if you’re designing an online economics course, you could award a Keynes badge to learners who complete 10 posts, Ricardo after 20, and so on.

Game-based learning is built into the fabric of the course itself. For example, if you are designing an Urban Planning course, you could include a mock city-planning session. Research shows that in the GBL framework, there is a strong correlation between motivation, engagement, complex problem solving, and other social and emotional skills.

Driving Serious Learning through GBL

In the GBL environment, learners get to apply new concepts in a risk-free setting. It helps them learn while they grow, and shift to a growth mindset. Adding the challenge of a game naturally lends itself to better mental growth.

In corporate training sessions, game-based learning is used to design personalised learning journeys for everyone. These sessions provide a safe space to practice, think independently, and interact with their peers in new ways. They can be applied to multiple industries: healthcare, retail, entertainment, and more. They are also widely used in a school setting (think of the Model United Nations concept, which allows students to better understand world issues).

Future of Game-Based Learning

Thanks to emerging technology like Metaverse, there are new and exciting ways to deepen GBL for all learners. The concept has seen steady growth over the last give years, because of innovations like AI, AR, and VR. It is projected to grow futher over the next five years.

The driving idea behind GBL is simple: give students a chance to apply what they’ve learnt in a low-risk setting. It is a concept that has allowed instructors to work creatively, while making learning fun for the student. In so many ways, it allows everyone to win.