23 Best Game-Based Education Resources of 2014

Edudemic has covered game-based learning and gamification in the classroom on numerous occasions in the past. When learning becomes a game, it’s an enjoyable, effective experience for students and teachers alike. We’ve curated 23 of the best game-based education resources for 2014. If your class hasn’t gotten its game on yet, then now is the time.

Understanding Game-Based Education

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The concept of game-based education is one that’s easily dismissed as being frivolous or time-wasting. These go-to resources will help teachers who would like to learn more about the effectiveness of using game-driven approaches in the classroom:

  • The Institute of Play explains how games nurture the higher-order thinking skills kids will need in their futures, including the ability to analyze and solve problems using media resources. The Why Games & Learning page on its site makes a particularly succinct and compelling argument on behalf of game-based learning. It describes games as “complex eco-systems extending beyond the game space to involve networks of people in a variety of roles and rich interactions.”

  • Educational technology company Knewton presents an easy-to-digest infographic about the prevalence of gaming in today’s society, the benefits of gaming in school, and how teachers can harness the powers of gaming for the good of public education.

  • In Gamification in the Classroom: The Right or Wrong Way to Motivate Students?, Tim Walker of the National Education Association (NEA) takes a look at today’s gamification trend, with a call-to-action for teachers to choose their methodology wisely. Although the article is rather critical of gamification in learning, it nonetheless offers valuable perspective to prevent educators from going too far with this method.

Resources for Getting Started

Even if you’re sold on the idea of game-based learning, you might be at a loss on where to begin. Here, you’ll find helpful introductory resources for teachers who want to learn more about gamification:

  • According to Smart Data Collective’s October 2014 post, Press Start to Learn: How Gamification is Changing Education, gamification instills a sense of investment and collaboration in students, which in turn improves both behavior and learning. Author Rick Delgado offers several suggestions for gamification practices in your classroom.

  • Education technology specialist Alice Keeler thinks students should never be bored or disinterested in class. In her video, Getting Started With Games Based Learning, Keeler offers words of wisdom in this webinar for teachers who want to try game-based learning but aren’t sure where to start.

  • In an Education Week blog titled Eight Principles of Productive Gamification that was posted earlier this year, education advocate Tom Vander Ark discusses productive failure, intrinsic motivation, and other important principles you should be aware of before introducing game-based learning strategies to your classroom.

  • TeachThought’s Mike Acedo gives 10 easy-to-follow suggestions for those who want a simple start to classroom gamification. The ideas on his list all are practical and simple to implement.

  • Last July, the Joan Gan Cooney Center published a piece titled How Teachers Can Use Video Games in the Humanities Classroom. In it, Temple University professor Jordan Shapiro provides discourse about how humanities teachers can and should help shape the role of video games in school and society. The story is the 12th installment of Shapiro’s 19-part Guide to Games and Learning for KQED’s MindShift website.

Tools You Can Use

Once you’ve developed an understanding of game-based learning and decided how to get started, it’s time to move forward with deciding on the games you want to use. Visit these sites for access to hands-on games and gaming ideas:

  • Austrian think tank GLOBArt shares an informative video about The World Peace Game, a political science simulation that pits four or five student-led “countries” against one another. Students must use imagination and thinking skills to strike a balance of peace between their countries.

  • Back in May, Edudemic’s Nikolaos Chatzpoulous published a piece titled 3 Edtech Tools You Can Use to Gamify Your Classroom. It details three platforms — Socrative, Kahoot, and FlipQuiz — that can help you make the transition to a gamified classroom.

  • Mojang’s Minecraft is a massively popular game, but it also has educational applications for the classroom. In September, TechRepulblic published an article, MinecraftEDU: From Game to Classroom, which details reasons and methods for using MinecraftEDU in your curriculum.

For Teachers Who Design Their Own Games

When designing your own games, you must accomplish two things: creating a game and constructing a legitimate learning solution. Review these helpful hints for teachers who prefer to structure their own games:

  • In Game Element: Rewards, Bloomsburg University Professor Karl Kapp discusses gamification’s greatest motivators: praise, points, prolonged play, feelings of power, feelings of accomplishment, and more. You may also want to look at Game Element: Feedback, where Professor Kapp explores how gamification supplies students with automatic feedback, which in turn provides helpful academic guidance.

  • On the EdTech subreddit, there’s a great post titled Reddit Gamification Q & A with MIT Professor Eric Klopfer. In this thread, MIT Professor Eric Klopfer engages the public in a fascinating Q & A about gamification’s implications for students in 2014 and beyond. Among other subjects, it discusses creating games that teach students to code, and Professor Klopfer outlines some important considerations for designing these games.

  • Marzano Research’s Tips From Dr. Marzano: Vocabulary Games for the Classroom will be of particular interest for educators seeking to design language-based games. In this piece, education guru Dr. Robert Marzano offers research-based tips on how to create effective vocabulary games for your classroom.

Game-Based Education in the News

Among news outlets and tech publications, game-based learning is getting a lot of traction. Catch up on the latest developments with this learning modality via these articles:

  • The San Francisco Chronicle’s Computer Science Not Just a Game for S.F. Schools details how a group of high school students in San Francisco are learning computer coding in a college-prep math course. Their assignment: Create your own version of Pong.

Other Resources

Finally, use these miscellaneous resources to further expand your knowledge on game-based learning and gamification:

  • Code.org is a resource site for educators interested in learning and teaching computer coding. This “Hour of Code” video provides information about how you and your students can join the millions who have already taken this one-hour introductory course on computer coding. The class will be available online in December 2014.

  • In a peer-reviewed study published last April by the University of St. Andrews, students were motivated to make healthier lunch choices through gamification. Among other outcomes, it found that “Cafeteria-based FV consumption among K-8th grade students increased significantly above baseline levels when a low-cost, behaviorally based gamification intervention was introduced.”

In educational settings, game-based learning offers enormous potential for teachers and students. When done well, these interactions can yield meaningful, enriching experiences for everyone involved. Has gamification worked for you? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter via @Edudemic!

9 Comments

  1. Sharon Padilla-Alvarado

    November 21, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    I have designed a College Success board game which I have used for 8 years. I am trying to find a company that can help me to turn this into an online game. I am in the process of publishing a College Success textbook that builds on the concept of education as a game (where the players must learn the rules of the game). Are you looking for new ideas or for instructors who have developed games?

    • Kyle Dunning

      November 21, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      Sure, send me an email! kyle [at] edudemic.com

  2. Frankie Ramirez

    December 1, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    I enjoy reading articles on how to improve gamification in the classroom, it’s something I didn’t have as a kid growing up, especially with computer games. The thing I found more interesting is teaching kids how to code with resources like code.org. In the age of Millenials, I have a feeling that kids will grow up with that instant gratification of games on an iPhone. Is there any drawback to having everything so instant now a days. Does doing things the old way have cognitive benefits to a kid?

  3. Rachit Goel

    December 6, 2014 at 3:08 am

    “We think and understand best when we can imagine a situation and that prepares us for action. Games present a similar situation through simulation, providing us the opportunity to think, understand, prepare, and execute actions” as mentioned in a research report[1]. Also mentioned in the paper that games provide an opportunity for continued practice. I remember myself trying again and again to clear a level in some games I got stuck in. This gave a habit of improving myself with each attempt.

    We have to understand little things behind games that can prove to be major factors in improving overall personality of children. Through my personal experience with games, I acquired the habit of not giving up until and unless I gave my best shot. Games can teach us tactics like planning, organizing and team-work. Talking outside the context of gaming in classrooms, certain games like “Age of Empires” and “Age of Civilization” can teach students about history and culture. I personally felt that games have groomed me in a certain way.

    When used to be in school, concept of games in classroom was not there. But these days it is a popular practice should definitely be adopted. As far as learning is concerned, gaming in classroom can accelerate students’ pedagogical thinking. Imagine a group of elementary students working together to solve a riddle or puzzle on their computers. That would improve collaboration and their thought process. Games provide motivation to students to participate which is very essential for continuous learning process. Games in classroom can help teachers to prevent students from distracting and in turn maintain their interest in proceedings in classroom. Additionally, incentives can be given to the students to perform well in these games. This will motivate every student to engage in learning. With the tools described above, teachers can formulate their own games based upon the subject the want to teach. Websites like “teachhub.com” and “educationworld.com” provide good classroom games.

    References:
    [1] http://researchnetwork.pearson.com/wp-content/uploads/Lit_Review_of_Gaming_in_Education.pdf

  4. Rachit Goel

    December 6, 2014 at 4:05 am

    @Frankie, yes I guess doing things the old way had their cognitive benefits. Grinding your mind rather than looking for solution to a problem on Google is more cognitive and thought provoking. But with so much to do these days, having things at an instance has its own benefits too. Taking a day off to go to a field trip can be substituted with a virtual field trip. Having to setting up meeting to gather around with your friends at a place can be replaced by collaborative video or virtual is far more time saving. Moving away from the old days does take us away from that “personal touch” but I think it is the demand of recent times. It is the demand that makes people to innovate new things.

  5. Corey Heath

    December 9, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    Video games can not only be used to make education fun, but can also provide opportunities for facilitating contextual and experiential learning. I think our education system needs to improve upon on linking the theory being taught to its practical applications. Creating virtual scenarios and simulations provides an excellent opportunity to put lessons in concept. It is easy to imagine a young student being enrapt with a project that teaches her concepts of geometry by leading her through designing a virtual palace.

  6. Uday Kumar Macherla

    December 10, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    Video games are a great way to learn. They provide a lot of opportunities of learning through experiences. Students can find their own pace and become proficient in a subject in a fun and interesting way.
    Here is another example of gamification that I personally had experience with and realized that this could be used not only at primary level but at secondary level.

    ASU – Small lab, works on a lot of embodied, multimodal and collaborative learning strategies which promote concepts in a tangible way. They also promote subtle (but yet important) skills like teamwork, competitiveness, resource management and time management.

    Another important area of expansion is Augmented Reality, which has a lot of potential to be integrated into gaming and in education as well. This is really the future of the education and would love to some more articles on how these powerful concepts come together and revolutionize education.

    Interesting resources were highlighted in this article and were insightful.
    Thank you Edudemic.

    References : http://emlearning.asu.edu/smallab

  7. Jeff Mummert

    January 9, 2015 at 3:36 am

    Teachers should also check out Submrge: Deeper Thinking About Commercial Games and Education (submrge.org). Virtually no teacher resources guide teachers in the uses of commercial games in education, specifically using games “as text.” Using games “as text” not only develops critical thinking skills, but provides a platform for authentic analysis of 21st century media. Submrge also provides simple reviews of game making platforms, a glossary, and a compilation of activities and game reviews intended for educators.

  8. Tavis Parker

    January 20, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    There is one more resource that should be mentioned in the “For Teachers Who Design Their Own Games” section. The Game Crafter is a print on demand board game publisher and educators can use the service to produce 1 copy of their custom game or as many as they need. There are no minimum orders so you don’t have to buy a bunch of games.

    Once a game is built through the website’s online editor, it can be purchased by the teacher and typically arrives within a couple weeks. This can be a great resource for teachers to make their own custom board & card games for the classroom. The website is http://www.thegamecrafter.com