Is Digital Game-Based Learning (DGBL) the Future of Learning?

Let’s Understand What are Digital Games

A computer game is defined as such because the activity

  • has goals,
  • is interactive and
  •  is rewarding (gives feedback).

The gaming activities must offer the user the options to choose or define and then observe the newly created sequence.

Text Box: In comprehensive research  done in 2002 it was found that games and simulations led to higher cognitive (reasoning) outcomes and attitudinal outcomes than traditional instruction.

We describe computer games as being interactive based on a set of agreed rules[i] and constraints[ii] and directed toward a clear goal that is often set by a challenge[iii]. In addition, games constantly provide feedback, either as a score or as changes in the game world, to enable players to monitor their progress toward the goal[iv]. In speaking of a serious (computer) game, we mean that the objective of the computer game is not to entertain the player, which would be an added value, but to use the entertaining quality for training, education, health, public policy, and strategic communication objectives[v].

Is Digital Game-Based Learning the Future of Learning?

Parents are confused when their child, who cannot multiply improper fractions can explain how to defeat a video game Boss in one sitting.

The explanation here is very simple:

Digital game-based learning (DGBL), is a motivational, challenging, and rewarding process that can be fun.

Next, we ask what is Game-Based Learning?

Game-based learning is an effective, interactive experience that motivates active participate in the learning process.

How does it work?

Game-based learning involves the use of computer smart device and video games to produce learning outcomes. It is designed to balance subject matter and gameplay. It also assesses the learner. It checks the learner’s ability to retain and apply acquired knowledge in a real-world scenarios.

An effective game-based learning environment helps learners work toward a goal while choosing actions (pathways) and the learner experience the consequences of those decisions first-hand.

Here is the interesting part: While players (learners) make mistakes, the risk-free setting of a game environment allows failures to become challenges, which then drives them to revise their actions until they arrive at the correct way of doing things. There are hardly embarrassing moments in this learning environment.

This makes the activity more engaging until the learning objective is fulfilled.

Is Digital Game-Based Learning Effective?

Extensive research has been done on DGBL. Richard Van Eck of the University of North Dakota said that several reviews of the literature on gaming over the last 40 years find that digital game-based learning generally has positive effects.

Referring to the principle of situated cognition, Van Eck states that games are effective partly because

  • the learning takes place within a meaningful context.
  • The subject matter is directly related to the environment in which learners/players learn.
  • As such, the knowledge gained is not only relevant but applied and practiced within that context.

DGBL is a primary mechanism of learning and socialization through play. This is common to all human cultures and starts informally from a very young age. Hence humans as well as a number of animal groups learn in this manner. A lion learns to hunt through modelling and play, not through direct instruction, which is the same principle employed in a game-based instructional strategy.

The following elements of digital game-based learning add to its appeal as an effective educational tool:

  1. Competition.

The competitive elements of a game are generally not found in traditional learning methods or during classroom lectures or discussions. Competition provides motivation to learners/players to engage and finish an activity. It doesn’t need to be against another participant. It could be an attempt to bag get the highest score possible or outdoing one’s self every time.

  • Engagement.

Games that are fun to play significantly improve learning performance. When learners have fun, the learning pressure dissipates, allowing them to freely define and modify their strategies according to a specific goal.

  • Immediate Rewards.

Rewards aid in the learning process by keeping the participant invested and coming back for more. This fosters a continuous learning process for the learner/player, as each learning objective is tied to a series of challenges. Goals and their corresponding rewards can be built in stages and set according to difficulty.

  • Immediate Reinforcement and Feedback.

Research on learning and behaviour shows that learners learn faster when there’s a shorter interval between behaviour and reinforcer.

It would be less discouraging for learners to learn their mistakes right away than seeing a red mark on paper assessments a few days later. Feedback in a game context is instantaneous and scoring can be standardized to allow comparisons.

Criticisms of Digital Game-Based Learning

While positive claims have been made about using games as educational tools, some question its viability as well. There are those who argue that research has been slow to provide hard empirical evidence on its effectiveness.

Among the negatives that are associated with games and technology in general is that

it promotes isolation and anti-social behaviour, and

it results in short attention span.

However, the anti-social behaviour element might not, as more and more games are developed for social play. While some games do not allow face-to-face interactions, they mirror real-world communication that could prove useful in personal and business transactions.

The cost

Others argue that implementing either a fully digital game-based curriculum or even one that relies heavily on games requires additional equipment, software, and training of teachers, thus increasing costs.

Some believe that playing games distract learners from attaining other valuable skills.

Is Digital Game-Based Learning Here to Stay?

There are debates on whether or not digital game-based learning will prevail in the next 10 years or so, but it cannot be denied that it is thriving. Based on the figures released by Ambient Insight, the game-based global market reached $1.5 billion in 2012 and is expected to grow to $2.3 billion in 2017, a compound annual growth rate of 8.3%.

Final Word

Educators can take advantage of the multiple learning scenarios it presents to engage their audience.

[i] (Prensky, 2001; Vogel et al., 2006),

[ii] (Garris et al., 2002),

[iii] (Malone, 1981)

[iv] (Prensky, 2001). . . .

[v] Zyda, 2005). (p. 250)

What a Child Learns in Grade 1 Early Childhood Development


Listening and Speaking

Each morning begins with a brief whole class oral activity.

Use this time to:

• Talk about the day, date, the weather chart, children who have birthdays and any special events for the day.

• Check attendance: take a roll call to identify children present / absent

• Hear a few children share their news, ‘show and tell’ about a picture or object, talk about the diary, sports, concerts, topical events and story-telling. Try to listen to every child’s news at least once every two weeks.

Listening and Speaking Activities that target specific skills at least twice a week, concentrate on developing 2 – 3 specific skills at a time

Listens to Stories and Express Feeling

  •  Listens to Instructions and responds appropriately
  • listens without interrupting, taking turns to ask questions for clarification
  • listens, enjoys and responds to picture and word puzzles, riddles and jokes
  • talks about personal feelings
  • sequence: Tells a story with beginning, middle and end
  • Answers closed and open ended questions
  • role play in different situations
  • participates in class discussions
  • use of terms:
  • sentence, capital and full stop
Continue reading “What a Child Learns in Grade 1 Early Childhood Development”

Reading – Milestones

Forming a Concept of Reading [i]

Where does it all begin?


  • Children are learning the sounds of speech
  • They are learning letter recognition
  • They are becoming familiar with books and print
  • They are learning the purpose of text
  • They are using environmental print
  • They are able to do simple retells and to notice words

Reading development begins with the social interaction that develops between you and your child as you share books with them. Spend 5 to 10 minutes reading to your child each day.


  • They learn their name recognition and let them copy it.
  • They learn letters and sounds.
  • They learn the concept of print


They should become confident handling books. A concept of print is referring to;

  • holding the book correctly,
  • identifying the title text,
  • understanding that the front cover or the title page tell us what the story will be about and
  • they also learn directionality of reading.

Learning LETTERS versus WORDS versus SENTENCES………….

Learning LETTERS versus WORDS versus SENTENCES

They will learn that letters form words and words string together to form sentences.


Teachers may describe the first words your child learns to read as CVC words. Your child will learn to hear and identify each single sound. Then pull the sounds apart then slide them back together again. This skill helps with learning to write and spell words. Your child is not yet able to tell how many syllables (make a word list with two and more syllable words) a word has, but they can clap the number of sounds they hear in a word. Clapping games at home help them to practice this skill.


                They are developing their comprehension skills at this time. There are six main comprehension strategies that can be taught from an early age.

  1. Making connections that are linking what they read (or have read to them) to what they already know about the topic.
  2. predicting – Using the information in the text to guess what will happen next.
  3. visualizing- Being able to make a picture in their mind about what is happening in the story. (distinguishing between fact and fiction)
  4. monitoring- Knowing when a word sounds wrong or when a word doesn’t make sense,
  5. summarizing- Children can explain what they have read or heard in 1 or 2 sentences


“Google it”

“The digital shift where we’re seeing information in different forms”

When the teachers say: “Write a research paper.”

Students hear: “Google it.”

It’s no secret that today’s students conduct their research mostly through search engines. When you’ve got everything you could ever want to know right at your fingertips, why bother combing through online databases or poring over reference books?

“Some teachers report that for some students, ‘doing research’ has shifted from a relatively slow process of intellectual curiosity and discovery to a fast-paced, short-term exercise aimed at locating just enough information to complete an assignment,” says Pew Research Center.

It is the same as reading a comic book of the 70’s. It was scorned by the teachers but now the comic is accepted as alternate reading material. 

We have to take notice of learners preferred choices and guide them to make the most out of it. 

The world is evolving very fast and the “traditional” approach will not be the same as the “traditional” approach of the previous generation. 

On the downside the big problem is how to find credible resources.

Three in five teachers agree that although today’s technologies provide access to a much greater depth and breadth of information, they also make it harder for students to find credible sources of information. In fact, more than 40 percent of students say they have trouble evaluating sources when researching, and many are entering college without learning basic research skills like how to find and vet information from a wide variety of respected sources.

Here is an excellent example how these modern challenges can be redirected.

To help college instructors bring their high school students up to speed, a librarian created a series of mini-podcasts on how to do research and made them available for instructors to assign as homework. 

The podcasts, which range from 2 minute segments to 15 minute discussions in different formats, address topics such as how to use databases or what peer-reviewed research is. It explains what research entails and why students should seek out scholarly sources. It helps them be good Knowledge Constructors, a crucial element of the standards that college and universities are looking for. 

Podcasts are a great way to slip in extra instruction.

You can make a podcast, upload it to the course page and students can listen at their own time and as often as necessary.