Digital Games-Based Learning for Students with Intellectual Disability

Digital Games-Based Learning for Students with Intellectual Disability

Maria Saridaki (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece), Dimitris Gouscos (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece) and Michael G. Meimaris (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-360-9.ch018
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Students with Intellectual Disability (ID) are often described as “slow learners” and cannot easily integrate to the normal curriculum. Still, the needs of a person with ID for accomplishment, enjoyment and perception of high quality multimedia content are augmented. In general education settings digital games for learning seem to work successfully with students, regardless of their developmental state or academic achievements. However, can such an approach work in a suitable and effective way for students with ID? If the answer to this question is positive, under which conditions and limitations can digital games be integrated into the ID instructional process? The purpose of this chapter is to investigate the common grounds between methodologies for Special Education Needs/ Intellectual Disability (SEN/ID) pedagogy on the one hand and Digital Games-Based Learning (DGBL) on the other, as well as to explore the potential of using digital games for SEN/ID students. To this end, the usage of digital games in the learning experience of students with Intellectual Disability is discussed, the ways in which commercial and educational games support various SEN methodologies and theories regarding Intellectual Disability pedagogy are examined and findings from the education literature as well as experimental observations and case studies are presented in order to investigate how and to what extent learning-purposed as well as entertainment-purposed games are able to constitute a powerful educational medium for SEN education and its inclusive objectives.
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Objectives Of This Chapter And Questions Addressed

Intellectual Disability (ID) is a term employed to refer to certain limitations of children and adults in mental development, communication and social skills. These limitations will cause a child to learn and develop more slowly than typical. In addition children with intellectual disability may take longer to learn to speak, walk and take care of their personal needs such as dressing or eating.

It should be noted that a number of wordings and definitions has been employed for the limitations and difficulties that Intellectual Disability refers to. Terms such as “Developmental Delay(s)”, “Mental Retardation”, “Learning Disability” and “Special Learning Difficulties” have been used over the past years. The term “Mental Retardation” has prevailed for some time but has received a number of criticisms lately. Following a 2002 survey by the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD, formerly the AAMR1) which has shown the general consensus among parents, educators and other professionals to be that this term has a negative connotation, the term “Intellectual Disability” is currently used in British Commonwealth countries and by the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disabilities (IASSID).

Intellectual Disability represents a widespread and heterogeneous condition, characterized principally by cognitive deficits in relation to the normal population (Zeaman & House, 1963; Ellis, 1963). According to the authoritative definition of the AAIDD2 which undertakes a functional perspective, as well as the statements of researchers such as (Schalock et al, 2007) who states that “Intellectual Disability is characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior as expressed in conceptual, social, and practical adaptive skills”, one of the basic characteristics of ID is the lack of adaptivity in everyday situations. Persons with Intellectual Disability might be delayed or lacking some of the so called Adaptive Behavior Skills such as reading, writing, expressive and receptive language, money concepts, self directions, responsibility, self-esteem, gullibility, understanding and following rules, daily living activities and occupational skills (AAIDD, 2008).

Within a formal educational context students with Intellectual Disability are often described as “slow learners” and cannot easily integrate to the normal curriculum, as a result of the aforementioned lack of adaptive skills and other low IQ-related difficulties, often coupled with additional handicaps and special needs. It is exactly these conditions, however, that result in an augmented need for persons with ID to draw a sense of enjoyment and personal accomplishment from the educational process. The aim of this chapter is to investigate to what extent pre-adult learners (children and adolescents) with Intellectual Disability are able to use digital games in order to test their abilities in a trial-and-error fashion within a formal – but nonetheless friendlier – learning process while at the same time having fun.

This objective calls for highlighting the common grounds between Intellectual Disability pedagogy on the one hand and Digital Games-Based Learning (DGBL) on the other, with a view to shedding light on the capabilities and limitations of applying digital games as instructional tools in the ID classroom. To this end a review of the relevant literature is provided, coupled with observations from a number of case studies using digital games as an instructional tool for students with ID. It must be noted that the term “digital games” is used in this chapter to refer to a broad spectrum of games running on standalone computers or on-line and implemented at various degrees of sophistication, ranging from browser-based applications to fully developed commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) products, and also including a number of edutainment software applications.

The following questions are addressed in this chapter:

  • 1.

    Can DGBL meet the instructional requirements of ID pedagogy?

  • 2.

    Are there specific types of digital games that seem to meet these requirements in a particularly effective way?

  • 3.

    What are the critical success factors for applying DGBL to the ID classroom?

  • 4.

    What are the limitations of such an effort?

Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Kurt Squire
Thomas Connolly, Mark Stansfield, Liz Boyle
Chapter 1
Stephen Tang, Martin Hanneghan, Abdennour El Rhalibi
Games-based learning takes advantage of gaming technologies to create a fun, motivating, and interactive virtual learning environment that promotes... Sample PDF
Introduction to Games-Based Learning
Chapter 2
Nicola Whitton
This chapter examines the rationale for the use of computer games in learning, teaching, and assessment in Higher Education. It considers their... Sample PDF
Learning and Teaching with Computer Games in Higher Education
Chapter 3
Daniel Livingstone, Jeremy Kemp, Edmund Edgar, Chris Surridge, Peter Bloomfield
Alongside the growth of interest in Games-Based Learning, there has been a notable explosion of interest in the use of 3D graphical multi-user... Sample PDF
Multi-User Virtual Environments for Learning Meet Learning Management
Chapter 4
Jean-Charles Marty, Thibault Carron, Jean-Mathias Heraud
In this chapter, the authors propose a Game-Based LMS called the pedagogical dungeon equipped with cooperation abilities for particular activities.... Sample PDF
Observation as a Requisite for Game-Based Learning Environments
Chapter 5
Marco A. Gómez-Martín, Pedro P. Gómez-Martín, Pedro A. González-Calero
A key challenge to move forward the state of the art in games-based learning systems is to facilitate instructional content creation by the domain... Sample PDF
Content Integration in Games-Based Learning Systems
Chapter 6
Matt Seeney, Helen Routledge
One of the most important differentiators between Commercial Games and Serious Games is content; delivered in a way that is successfully integrated... Sample PDF
Drawing Circles in the Sand: Integrating Content into Serious Games
Chapter 7
Mark McMahon
This chapter proposes a document-oriented instructional design model to inform the development of serious games. The model has key features in that... Sample PDF
The DODDEL Model: A Flexible Document-Oriented Model for the Design of Serious Games
Chapter 8
Daniel Burgos, Christof van Nimwegen
Serious games are suitable for learning. They are a good environment for improving the learning experience. As a key part of this setting, feedback... Sample PDF
Games-Based Learning, Destination Feedback and Adaptation: A Case Study of an Educational Planning Simulation
Chapter 9
Patrick Felicia, Ian Pitt
For a long time, users’ emotions and behaviours have been considered to obstruct rather than to help the cognitive process. Educational systems have... Sample PDF
Profiling Users in Educational Games
Chapter 10
Marco Greco
The use of Role-Playing is becoming prominent in Serious Games due to its positive effects on learning. In this chapter the author will provide a... Sample PDF
The Use of Role–Playing in Learning
Chapter 11
Sanna-Mari Tikka, Marja Kankaanranta, Tuula Nousiainen, Mari Hankala
In the context of computer games, learning is an inherent feature of computer game playing. Computer games can be seen as multimodal texts that... Sample PDF
Telling Stories with Digital Board Games: Narrative Game Worlds in Literacies Learning
Chapter 12
Colin Price
The power of computer game technology is currently being harnessed to produce “serious games”. These “games” are targeted at the education and... Sample PDF
The Path between Pedagogy and Technology: Establishing a Theoretical Basis for the Development of Educational Game Environments
Chapter 13
Sara de Freitas, Steve Jarvis
This chapter reviews some of the key research supporting the use of serious games for training in work contexts. The review indicates why serious... Sample PDF
Towards a Development Approach to Serious Games
Chapter 14
Pieter Wouters, Erik D. van der Spek, Herre van Oostendorp
Despite scant empirical substantiation, serious games are in widespread use. The authors review 28 studies with empirical data from a learning... Sample PDF
Current Practices in Serious Game Research: A Review from a Learning Outcomes Perspective
Chapter 15
Thomas Connolly, Mark Stansfield, Thomas Hainey
The field of games-based learning (GBL) has a dearth of empirical evidence supporting the validity of the approach (Connolly, Stansfield, & Hainey... Sample PDF
Towards the Development of a Games-Based Learning Evaluation Framework
Chapter 16
Helen Routledge
Based on real-world experiences using a variety of digital games, this chapter presents a guide for teachers on how to use games-based learning in... Sample PDF
Games-Based Learning in the Classroom and How it can Work!
Chapter 17
Elizabeth A. Boyle, Thomas Connolly
Developing educational computer games that will appeal to both males and females adds an additional level of complexity to an already complicated... Sample PDF
Games for Learning: Does Gender Make a Difference?
Chapter 18
Maria Saridaki, Dimitris Gouscos, Michael G. Meimaris
Students with Intellectual Disability (ID) are often described as “slow learners” and cannot easily integrate to the normal curriculum. Still, the... Sample PDF
Digital Games-Based Learning for Students with Intellectual Disability
About the Contributors