How can the learning potential of gaming be harnessed to boost lesson engagement within non-formal education and youth work?
A recent publication conducted by YEU International delves into this very question. Based on first hand accounts, the paper attempts to deconstruct the common assumption that gaming is useful only as recreational activity and not as a viable medium to boost and diversify learning engagement. If we consider that we are naturally driven towards the social act of playing, regardless of age, the latter association of gaming offers plenty of utility. This stands for both children and adults alike. This also stands for non-formal and formal education respectively.
It is important to note, however, that gamification does not necessarily mean “games“. Games are a form of competitive play in which there are rules in place to determine skill. Gamification, on the other hand, takes the best parts of games (being the game-like mechanics that motivate us) and applies them to non-game entities to encourage us to carry out certain behaviours. It engages us and allows us to leverage several of our natural human desires: socialising, learning, mastery, achievement, and status. The idea, and subsequent value of gaming as an approach, is to harness these tendencies as mechanisms for learning.
Within the report, the potential of gamification is located, as a useful example of its practical implementation, in the realm of human rights education (HRE). Gamification offers a new added value to HRE which other approaches find difficult to replicate and has a strong capacity to spark an initial interest in a topic. It is suggested that unlike much HRE lessons which provide learners with information on human rights issues from which they passively consume – the gamification approach creates the scenarios, puts learners/players in the role and provides an experience of the issues synonymous to HRE. The latter approach allows learners to move beyond merely understanding human rights concepts to examining their experiences from a human rights perspective – an act of cognition that slips past solely transferring information and can only be evoked through meaningful engagement with a topic.
Take a look at the report in full here.