This 2014 article by Jordan Shapiro focuses on products made by Amplify Learning, a company specializing in digital products designed to integrate technology with educational goals. Shapiro admits some skepticism about this fad of “edutainment,” but the article largely praises game-based learning and Amplify’s products specifically. The CEO of Amplify, Joe Klein, comments that the value of these products lies in students using them in their free time when they would otherwise be playing non-educational games. The company recruits game developers from the commercial world, knowing that if a game is not fun, the user will not continue to play, and all educational value will be lost.
Shapiro cites as a benefit that many of these games are designed for students to learn through exploration, experimentation, repetition, and trial and error. These formats are supported by current research on best practices in education. More and more school districts are implementing curriculum and instructional models that follow a similar exploratory approach. For example, the district where I teach, Rogers Public Schools in Arkansas, has adopted a math curriculum that focuses on mathematical practices and the inquiry process. Games that support rigorous content learning through engagement and fun will likely continue to transform how students learn.
Game-based learning will not replace more traditional learning modes but complement them as companies continue to develop better products to meet students’ needs. Educators have already seen how emerging forms of technology can be adapted for use both in school and beyond classroom walls.
For more information, see Edutopia’s collection of articles on game-based learning cited below.