Improving the Impact and Return of Investment of Game-Based Learning

Improving the Impact and Return of Investment of Game-Based Learning

Christian Sebastian Loh (Virtual Environment Lab (V-Lab), Department of Curriculum & Instruction, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/jvple.2013010101
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Abstract

Today’s economic situation demands that learning organizations become more diligent in their business dealings to reduce cost and increase bottom line for survival. While there are many champions and proponents claiming that game-based learning (GBL) is sure to improve learning, researchers have, thus far, been unable to (re)produce concrete, empirical evidence supporting this claim. Lacking appropriate assessment methodologies to showcase the effectiveness of the learning technology and to convince stakeholders that GBLs could really work, it is no wonder that many learning organizations regard GBL training as a potentially high-risk technology investment. This paper describes a GBL assessment methodology designed specifically to collect player-generated data in an in situ manner (i.e., within the game environment itself) through telemetry. This methodology further incorporate data visualization to translate the data collected into meaningful information and actionable intelligence for various stakeholders.
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What Can Game-Based Learning Really Do?

Digital games were first tested by the military as a possible instructional medium because of the similarity found between first-person shooter games and some military objectives (Fong, 2004). Today, GBL has moved beyond the boundary of military training and is increasingly being used for online learning by training organizations and higher education institutions. Because not all games and simulations are created equal, there remain many inconsistencies between what GBLs purported to do and are able to accomplish. While most GBLs claimed to facilitate some sort of ‘learning’ within the virtual (game) environment, learners’ GBL ‘experience’ could range from agent-guided immersive learning to merely exploring an environment where learning is ‘expected’ to occur but lacking any follow-up to verify that learning has indeed occurred.

With such a wide range of offerings, how should stakeholders of learning organizations decide if a certain GBL application is worth its salt? Should s/he focus only on the instructional and learning aspects of the GBL, or should the assessment of learning be factored into the consideration as well? For example, a customer who has paid a travel agent to arrange for a trip has every right to expect to arrive at the right destination. Similarly, a manager who has invested in GBL for his organization need to know if the trainees truly arrived at the intended learning destination as claimed by the game maker.

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