“Oh, The Places You’ll Go” With Game-Based Learning


My previous articles have discussed success principles, problem-solving, decision-making and uniqueness; seemingly vaguely related topics that have relatively little to do with learning and skills development. Or do they?

In my opinion these skills and attributes, and how they are treated, are critical success factors in the learning and development process. Learning is a systematic process of applying oneself, making mistakes, evaluating those mistakes and then reapplying new levels of knowledge and experience. Making mistakes and trying new things until we see progress is fundamental to learning. Solving problems, making decisions and taking action is equally fundamental in the process. How then does uniqueness play a part?

It is really simple! All of us are different; and the way that each of us learns can be vastly different too. This has been the focus of Curry, Kolb and most famously Gardner. What is consistent though is that we all learn best from experiences and especially those that make use of our preferred senses of sight, hearing or touch.

At this point you are probably saying to yourself, “I have heard this all before” or “If I wanted to know this then I can go back to my linguistics or psychology textbooks”. So that being said, I would like to follow a whole different path. Theory, while valuable is just that – theory. And this is exactly how many educators, lecturers and trainers have got their points across and attempted to transfer knowledge for years.

Are we still living in the Industrial Revolution??? Definitely not! There are so many new and exciting ways to engage people in a learning process that has real and tangible results. Technology has opened new doors to learning with e-learning, mobile learning, interactive smart boards, social media….. The list is endless. The biggest advances in learning, though, have come from the blending of old and new learning methodologies and technologies. One just needs to look at how conventional learning is being combined with mobile and e-learning to create a more interactive form of technology-based learning that appeals to newer generations.

As I have mentioned before, finding engaging solutions that appeal to different generations is a passion of mine. I am also a self-confessed game-lover. So naturally when I first learned about the phenomenon that is “Gamification”, I began exploring how it can be implemented within a learning, consulting and coaching environment. The fit is obvious!

Consider how many other forms of training or facilitation allow for:

  1. Self, peer and facilitator-led learning
  2. Experiential and simulated learning in a “safe” environment
  3. Immediate application or opportunities to apply concepts learned in the classroom
  4. Immediate assessment of skills, knowledge and application
  5. Immediate opportunities for individuals to learn from their own mistakes or those of others without the worst possible ramifications
  6. The positive reinforcement by learners just having FUN during the learning process.


The beauty of game-based or simulation-based learning is that it need not only make use of technological tools. Educational boardgames that are facilitated correctly often have a more profound effect – especially in South Africa. Games have taught our children across the ages. Perhaps adults can really learn from “childish things”.   

In the immortal words of Dr Seuss,:
 
“Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! 
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.”

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