Recently I was reading about incorporating online games in the classroom experience. From an strictly teacher perspective the games must enhance students learning experience according with the goals and learning objectives.
Is it possible to have fun when we learn and teach a second language? In my opinion gaming can be incredibly beneficial to learning a second language. These kind of activities like Horton (2012) mentioned can provide practice, provoke discoveries, and test learning.
To learn a new language is a very individual process aligned with specific communication skills. To provide effective gaming experience for increasing retention of classroom curriculum I agree with the idea of Brown, Roediger & McDaniel that the more difficult the practice, the greater the benefit.
It is important to design and select games with different levels of difficulties having new knowledge built from prior knowledge and gradually increasing complexity while encouraging problem solving skills and providing effective feedback. In every level it is possible to choose or create the appropriate game from simple puzzles for practicing vocabulary to simulations or immersive role-playing games for encouraging listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
I found extremely value Peter’s recommendations when selecting or developing games for a course:
Align games with learning goals.
Choose games based on their motivational potential.
Games must be interactive and dynamic.
Provide progressive complexity.
Integrate learnability into the game.
Contextualize games into real life situations (relevant to the learning process)
Embed feedback into the game (realistic consequences from the choices made)
In terms of designing games’ interface most of the experts recommend for simple games to use game templates to reduce the amount of custom development required. For advanced learning activities it is highly recommended to design micro-world with clear goals, learning objectives, character, objects, and rules. Always focus on how the win condition requires accomplishing the learning objectives (Horton, 2012). I believe there still is a long way remaining to develop great games for each content area but education is progressing more toward effectively incorporating virtual play learning experiences in the curriculum.