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Game-based learning

Do you want to engage and activate your students by using games and play as part of your teaching? The following includes some specific examples of why you should be using games and play in the classroom, and exactly how to do it.

Game-based learning

What is game-based learning?

The term ‘game-based learning’ is used to describe a number of different phenomena in which games or a playful outlook are key to the learning process. There are many definitions, but not all of them employ the same categories. In simple terms, game-based learning can be summarised using the following two characteristics:

  • Games are integral to the teaching process. Students learn by playing games (computer games, board games or role play).
  • We adopt a playful attitude to teaching. Standard learning activities are carried out as part of a game-oriented approach, commonly termed gamification.

What do games and play have to do with teaching and learning?

Research into game-based learning is just as varied as the term itself. However, most authors in this field are agreed on three main benefits linked to the use of games or game-based learning in the teaching process.

  • Students become highly engaged in their learning activities. They are active and complete many tasks.
  • Students think that games make learning fun and motivational.
  • Games support autonomy development by enabling students to create a variety of adaptive learning paths.

Although current research is unable to say whether games enable students to learn better or learn more, it is clear that game-based learning stimulates involvement in the learning process.

There are many ways of using games productively in teaching, and they do not have to be digital. Board games, role play and pencil and paper games can all be used to create a variety of exciting learning experiences. But there are also a multitude of digital products that are easy to use in everyday classroom settings.

How to use games and play as part of your teaching


Spillnettverk: a USN network for games and play

Did you know that USN has its own Game network (Spillnettverk)? This is an open and voluntary network of USN staff and students who either research games and/or play, use games and/or play in teaching, or are curious about it. In-person and digital gatherings are organised every semester and the Teams channel is always open for new threads and discussions. Visit the network's Teams by clicking this link.