Game-based learning gaining popularity in UAE classrooms
Playing games in classrooms isn't exactly what comes to mind when most people think of school. However, this is precisely what some teachers in Dubai are doing to help their pupils learn.
Although game-based learning has been around for a while, it seems to gain more traction as creative learning, virtual-reality (VR) tools in classrooms, and artificial intelligence as teacher assistants are becoming common in schools- making the traditional form of teaching and learning increasingly redundant.
A teacher at the GEMS Metropole School in Dubai, Jacob de Leeuw has integrated popular forms of gaming tools in his class. "I have been using a mathematics game called Prodigy Maths Game with my Year 6 classes for the last few years. It is a turn-based game where an avatar battles against other characters or classmates by completing mathematical problems," Leeuw told Khaleej Times.
"As a teacher, I am able to set certain tasks for my class, based on what we are working on. When students complete their tasks, I am also able to generate a significant amount of data that feeds formatively into my teaching and learning.
Informative, free, addictive, and very engaging. How engaging? 1,500 questions answered in the first week of implementation."
The game also helps "reluctant learners" participate because of the progress the avatar makes in the game, Leeuw said. He added that the students also learned skills such as problem-solving, mastery of concepts, and fluency of basic skills when they participate.
He then uses the data generated from the game to focus on his students' strengths, as well as areas where they need more support.
"Gamification also supports students with rigour and patience because the more they play, the more they are able to develop their avatar and, directly, their learning. Student potential is moved into their own hands and they have the opportunity to take responsibility for their own learning," Leeuw said.
Young students are also benefiting from game-based learning in classrooms. A grade one teacher at the GEMS Modern Academy, Alyson Norman, said games enabled students to interact and communicate in a group or individually.
These activities are particularly helpful for shy students who tend to "come alive" during gaming sessions, she said.
"As active learners, my students enjoy game-based learning. Only recently, while learning 'Blends' we played 'Blends Jeopardy.' Blending is the skill of joining individual speech sounds to make a word. It helps students decode unfamiliar words using letter-sound patterns. It also develops listening skills and helps pronunciation.
During the game, students look at pictures, read and spell the word, putting together all the sounds," Norman said.
"Learning through games breaks the monotony of a lesson. Games are challenging, motivating students to maintain effort. They also offer the opportunity to practice oral and written skills, in the form of comprehension and expression."
Khaleej Times has also reported previously how classrooms in Dubai are seeing a rise in the use of VR headsets in learning.
Through VR, students can virtually go anywhere without any geographic or time restrictions.