Monthly Archives: December 2012

7 Tips for a Game-Based Learning Success

Published in Concepts
Tuesday, 04 December 2012 20:42
Are you thinking of using games as a new way to develop eLearning content? Are you thinking of applying the theory of gaming in eLearning but you do not know how to? In the following post I will give you 7 tips to succeed with your Game-Based Learning.

Why is gaming so important to Learning success?



The use of games with learning purposes is not new. Perhaps one of the most remarkable and significant person on this issue is Jean Piaget and his Constructivism approach. According to this, learning is an active process where the learner takes part of it since he builds up new ideas based upon current or past knowledge.


Some of the advantages of using games with learning purposes are:

  • Learn from your mistakes in a safe and simulated environment.
  • Learn other ways or more effective techniques to carry out something in particular.
  • The context of a game is generally more engaging because at every stage there is a challenge to achieve that keeps the learner motivated.

Gamification vs Game-Based Learning
Nowadays we are surrounded by a wide range of concepts related to games that can be used with learning purposes such as Gamification or Game-Based Learning.


Gamification is the process of using game mechanics and game thinking in non-gaming contexts to engage users and to solve problems. It is popular in marketing purposes but it is also becoming popular in learning contexts.


On the other hand the aim of Game-Based Learning (GBL) is to teach something while the learner is playing.


A good example of GBL is the Academy Island from Cambridge ESOL where kids can learn English while they take part in an adventure game.

Practice your English with our Academy Island game!

How to succeed with Game-Based Learning (GBL)

  1. Align game types with learning outcomes 

    There are different types of games: boarding games, adventure games, puzzle games, etc. Analise them and think about which is more suitable to use depending on each situation and the learning outcomes

    Role-play games appeal when the audience is for example a salesman who needs to learn how to deal with the most common client objections in order to sell better. 

  2. Turn learning and knowledge into the clue 

    When the gamer receives a positive output by using his knowledge, it is more probable he will use it again in the game. 

    If the game takes place in a corporate scenario similar to the context of the user, he understands that what he has used in the game would have a similar response in the real life. 

    In other words, it will become a repetitive behavior transferable to his working environment

  3. Apply proven effective instructional strategies to design the game 

    Some of proven instructional strategies are: the use of graphics instead of only text, to show and demonstrate how to do things instead of just put them on a list, to let learners self-asses their knowledge instead of just answer a final test and the use of similar scenarios that are easily transferable to the daily life of the gamer. 

    Other useful instructional strategies are the use of self-explanation questions and the use of meaningful feedback. Avoid the typical “yes, you’re right” or the negative version of it. Explain to him why he hits the nail on the head or why he did not get the right answer. In other words, do not miss interactivity

  4. Guide the gamer to achieve goals 

    As it happens in casual games, in the GBL the learner has to know what to do and what is the purpose of doing something. If not, your gamer will turn off the game and will never open it again. Explain him the goal of each scenario and what the reward is in return. You can use different strategies to explain this: text on the screen, a character that talks to the gamer, etc. 

  5. The game must be immersive 

    Take care of the storyline, the background of the game is important. It has to be coherent, especially if the scenario tries to simulate a working environment. If you want them to transfer the knowledge acquired, the scenarios must be similar to the ones in the real life

    Moreover, if you let the gamer be part of the storyline instead of being only who controls the character you will get better results. To sum up, let the learner be part of the game

  6. It must be challenging 

    Neither so easy nor extremely difficult. The key is to increase the difficulty while playing. At the beginning of the game, the gamer needs to get used to the game, but after this previous stage, he wants challenges to carry on playing. If the gamer does not face up challenges he will not be engage and you will lose the learner and so your learning outcomes. 

  7. The game must be reliable 

    If the audience of your game are employees they expect to obtain knowledge, skills and abilities in order to do their job better. In other words, the most important thing is to focus on the learning outcomes. As in the example above, the game expects an environment to practice his sales strategy, to see the response of the client and to learn other effective abilities for him to sell better.

My advice

Before designing a Game-Based Learning, become a gamer first and then think about how to adapt the game principles in a learning context.


  • Colvin Clark, R., Mayer, R. E. E-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning. 3rd edition. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons/Pfeiffer, 2011. Print. ISBN-10: 0470874309 – ISBN-13: 978-0470874301
  • Derryberry, A. “Serious Games: online games for learning”. Adobe. November 2007. 26th of November 2012. Web site:
  • New Media Consortium (NMC), Marcus Institute for Digital Education in the Arts (MIDEA). “NMC Horizon Report > 2012 Museum Edition”. New Media Consortium and Marcus Institute for Digital Education in the Arts. 2012. 26th of November 2012. Web site:
  • Connolly, T. Stansfield, M. “Using Games-Based eLearning Technologies in Overcoming Difficulties in Teaching Information Systems”. University of Paisley. Volume 5, 2006. Web site:
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Posted by on December 7, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Blended Teaching and Learning: Student Engagement

Blended learning is a hybrid of online learning and the face-to-face classroom experience.  Historically traditional learning system and distributed learning systems have been separate models of teaching and learning.  With distributed learning systems, the role of computer-based technologies is emphasized (2004, Bonk & Graham).  However, “blended learning is more than enhancing lectures,” and this educational design requires a new approach to teaching and learning.  As educators we have to rethink the design of the educational environment and learning experience (2010, Azaiza). 

With blended learning, comes the hope of the opportunity of students to “engage their professors and peers in critical discourse” (2010, Azaiza).  As educators we struggling to ?nd the time and means to engage students in meaningful learning activities.  With that being said, 83% of higher education instructors use the lecture as the predominant teaching strategy.   Blended learning necessitates teaching and learning to move from a more transmissive environment to an interactive environment.  

Why use blended learning in higher education?  Some studies indicated that blended learning approaches increase the level of active learning strategies, peer-to-peer learning strategies, and learner centered strategies used (Hartman, Dziuban, & Moskal, 1999).  For a successful blended course learning environment to exist, motivation, communication, and course design must be present (2012, King & Arnold).

Disadvantages do exist for instructors and students. Students unfamiliar with online education may struggle with the technology during the first few weeks of the course. An online course can foster a lack of student motivation. Students can be caught unaware of the amount of time that an online course requires. Finally, teachers must commit an extensive amount of time preparing and teaching an online course.

Technology does provide education without time and space constraints and can improve the quality of higher education.   For more information on how you can use the tools available in Canvas to support a blended learning environment, view the Prezi on Blended Course Leaning and Canvas.

Azaiza, K. (2010). Blended Learning in Higher Education: Framework,

          Principles, and Guidelines. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 11(4),


Bonk, C. J. & Graham, C. R. (Eds.) (2004). (in press). Handbook of blended learning: Global Perspectives, local designs.  San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer Publishing.

Hartman, C., Dziuban, P., & Moskal, J. . (1999). Higher education, blended learning, and the generations: Knowledge is power no more.   Retrieved from

King, S. E., & Arnold, K. (2012). Blended Learning Environments in Higher Education: A Case Study of How Professors Make It Happen. Mid-     Western Educational Researcher, 25(1-2), 44-59.

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Posted by on December 4, 2012 in Uncategorized


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