Game-based learning for the 21st century learners in Mobile Learning Environment LEE KHIN THERN
National Institute of Education, Singapore
The belief of a ‘no pain, no gain’ mode of learning where learners are required to endure the laborious task of hard work in order to attain an certain level of achievement in their performance seems to be pervasive in many cultures, more so Asian (Langer, 1993). It is understandable that such belief is a follow-through effect of an agricultural society where the amount of hard labor invested in the fields will yield its corresponding bounty during harvest time. The institution of national examinations, to identify and reward talents, has transfixed the scope of knowledge and skills to be learnt and tested thus developing the idea of a curriculum. However education, in today’s context, no longer holds the sole purpose of fitting people into the spectrum of jobs well-established in the society through the ages. It was found that for the school year 2005-2006 in the Netherlands, 19% of the students in secondary school education left school without a diploma and that similar statistics are also reported for other European countries and the USA (Jonassen & Blondal, 2005; Herweijer, 2008). One of the reasons cited for this ‘failure in meeting the perceived education needs of the pupils sufficiently’ is that a new generation of students being educated with the old paradigms and methods (Prensky, 2001; Beck & Wade, 2006; Klopfer, 2008). Taking the cue from developed societies and economies, it is believed that education needs to be more authentic and prepares the learners for this age and the coming of times as it (authentic learning) focuses on ‘real-world, complex problems and their solutions using role-playing exercises, problem-based activities, case studies and participation in virtual communities of practice’ (Lombardi, 2007). It is also believed that the most effective learning occurs when learners transport what they have learnt to various and diverse new situations (Bransford el. at 2004) and this transfer can be best achieved in a learning environment that encompasses learning tools that anchor instruction, feedback, behaviorism, constructivism, 2
narrative psychology, a host of other cognitive psychology with educational theories and principles (Van Eck, 2006). One such learning environment, yet to be explored extensively, is the Mobile Learning environment (MLE) and authentic learning through educational games, designed to create a continuous cycle of cognitive disequilibrium and accommodation (Baillargeon, Kotovsky, & Needham, 1995), allows players to achieve success in a nonthreatening manner.
How People Learn
In a report of a 2-year study conducted by the Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning, How People Learn, it is mentioned that learning does not begin from knowing nothing but is a life-long attempt to construct one’s understanding of the world by transforming existing understanding through the continuous process of assimilating and accommodating new information applied in new situations (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 2004). It highlights students’ abilities to transfer what they have learnt to new situations and provides an important index of adaptive, flexible learning. Expertise can be promoted in learners and that the predominant indicator of expert status is the amount of time spent learning and working in a subject area to gain mastery of the content. This transfer of knowledge and skills into the virtual world of gaming which mimics the real world, with the availability of replay function is an avenue for learners to gain mastery in a non-threatening environment. Bransford made the proclamation that ‘technology has become an important instrument in education and that computer-based technologies holds great promise both for increasing access to knowledge and as a means of promoting learning’. As computer-based...
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