Getting started with games-based learningContinuing our two-part interview with Ron Barassi, who creates online Mathematics games, today we ask Ron how teachers can easily incorporate online games into their classroom practice to help students.

To start, Ron suggests that educators identify which students may not be as engaged by traditional teaching methods and consider introducing online games instead. The key message here is instead: in certain situations, an online game may be best used as the primary resource rather than an additional resource.

In particular, games can be a useful resource to help students build their collaboration skills, as well as content-related skills. Creating challenges in-game facilitates community and collaboration, especially if overcoming these obstacles is rewarded. These rewards encourage teamwork, as well as the repetition of certain tasks, which is useful for skill practice.

Finally, games represent an excellent source of ready-made content that teachers can leverage throughout the year to help save planning and preparation time.

Choosing the right game for the classroom

With hundreds of online games available, how do teachers choose which one is best for their students? Ron highlights four key factors that teachers look for:

  • Engagement: As mentioned, the game itself needs to be engaging. Ron has addressed this with a context that students care about in a comic book style presentation with scores and achievements.
  • Transmedia: The game in question should be presented in multiple mediums: videos, interactivities, images and story told through text combine to make a game more cohesive and interesting to students.
  • Time-saving: An educational game will succeed if it cuts back on preparation time for teachers – particularly if its content aligns with relevant textbooks.
  • Encourage social learning: As mentioned previously, games that encourage student collaboration will work best as they assist teachers in building community within as well as outside their classroom.

Jacaranda would like to thank Ron for his contributions and insights into games-based learning.