Learning through gaming - Educational games

Written by Vladimír Nepor 10/10/2019

Learning through gaming - the dream form of studying in developed countries and often the only way of getting basic - but very important - knowledge for children in developing countries. Does learning though gaming make sense, and if so, how games can help worldwide population to get and improve important knowledge?

Number of people in school age worldwide

According to data for year 2016 presented by Unesco institute for statistics, there is around 1.3 billion children, adolescents and youth in school age worldwide while 263 millions of them (every 5th) has no option to visit a school and worse yet - has no simple way to get materials for self study. The consequence of this is that every 7th adult (older 25 years) is illiterate (data presented by UNESCO for the same year).

The number of children, adolescents and youth who are excluded from education fell steadily, but UIS data show that this progress essentially stopped in recent years; the total number of out-of-school children and youth has declined by little more than 1 million per year (improvement below 1%) since 2012.

Number of people aout of school
Number of people aout of school by countries
Number of children, adolescents and youth out of school of various ages in various countries.

There's clear that current methods are getting stop to work and the next wave of massive education will be represented by the use of modern technologies, starting from the youngest children of age 6 to 11 (primary schools age). This age category is currently represented by 63 millions children (24% of 263 millions out of school people). Basic education, usually got in this age is very important for transition to higher levels of education offered by lower secondary schools (for childrens of age 12-14, 61 millions / 23% of the 263 millions people) and alternatively upper secondary schools for youth of age 15 to 16 (139 millions / 53% of the 264 millions without access to this education).

Education as the driving force of the economy

Knowledge and skills of people have been the greatest wealth of every prosperous country for millennia. Current prosperity of countrues is generally presented by value of gross domestic product. Comapre this value with average number of years of schooling in various countries which are available in following interactive map.

Average number of years of schooling which people spend in various countries since 1870

Educational games in developed countries

Educational system in most developed countries is open to everyone regardless of wealth, standing or national source. Schools themselves offer basic knowledge important for option to live valuable life and perform basic qualified work. People in these countries are aware of need of lifelong learning and are willing to invest time and money into own education which is often considered the best possible investment. People in developed countries can visit many private and reputable educational institution with starndard as well as alternative forms of study. The purpose of educational is learn people to use new technologies which come to many fields for the needs of employers.

Option of learning through gaming is available via specialized, frequently paid games and applications designed for children of various ages which can be used by teachers and parents as the way to give their child an option of self-study in an interesting form for them. Educational games and applications are part of every app store.

Internet and cheap smartphones as the opportunity for developing countries

Half the world's population is already online and the biggest worldwide technology companies such as Google (project Loon), Microsoft (Airband Initiative) or Facebook (Internet.org) are looking or working on ways to make online also the second half. Availability of the internet in combination with cheap smartphones is mix which will bring a revolution into lives of people living in developing countries and facing problems of access to food, help, education or financial services.

Worldwide organisations build new schools in developing countries and educate people to teach the children there, however their vision is often to bring there the system of education they know from own developed countries. Today's world, and especially in developing countries without schools need a new access instead of old standard of building new schools, a strategy taking in mind the fact, that Google is more clever than any teacher on the world and the true goal of a teacher is not to present skills, but enthusiasm and ways to learn how to work with global knowledge available over the internet. Instead of learning often unnecessary things, developing countries need educational system which will allow to students focus at the most important disciplines and subjects for them and their countries.

1.7 billion adults on the Earth have no access to a bank account, which is very limited factor in many verticals. Open a bank account in developing countries with often non-stable national currency has been quite problematic, finally, smartphone with the internet connection and little knowledge of using it will bring simple way of managing and moving wealth easily in a form of cryptocurrencies. Unicef itself starts accept donation in Bitcoin and Ethereum without converting them to Fiat currencies. Direct transfer of these assets further to needy in these countries will support interest for these technologies and their usage. At the same time, there is a need to bring effective way to educate in financial literacy and security.

The idea of education through games

Education through games has been hot subject of research for decades. Many researchers see games as a part of education in multiple perspectives without matter for what audience they are designed. However, the sad truth is that education is starting to be used also by politicians who misunderstood the famous John Amos Comenius's phrase "Schola ludus" and trying to force mind that learning should be a fun.

John Amos Comenious, the father of modern education

Czech philosopher, pedagogue and theologian, living in years 1592 to 1670, dedicated his life to bring educational in a simple form to learn. The most famous works of J.A Comenious is the theater play "Schola ludus" (School by play) from 1630 via which he presents complex grammar tasks in the form of interactive game. Need to say, that the poin of the game is not to be fun, instead only present knowledge to students by a different, more-interactive form. More famous work yet is however his picture textbook Orbis pictus released in multiple languages.

Check more information about John Amos Comenious on Wikipedia.

The value of learning through gaming has been recognized in the children’s education field for more than a decade. Case studies represent data that simulation, role playing and gaming can be part of teaching methods based on experimental learning considering fact that these games are modeling situations from the real world. Also we at PacoGames have had a goal to create a game based on this methods, focusing at education of financial literacy, however, this project has been stopped.

Learning through gaming could be particularly well suited for young learners familiar with modern electronic devices. Game-based learning is seen as an option to address the learning and motivation requirement of the existing generation of students and evidences indicate that games implementing pedagogical design can strengthen and support children’s cognitive abilities.

The concept of educational games, their design and UX is highly dependant on age of a student. Every age category has different needs, and cognitive, motor and intellectual skills for interaction with educational materials. Companies creating games for educational purposes, financed by grants and subsidies, develop games on basis of multiple case studies always for individual type of students on basis of their age and location. These games are usually divided to multiple parts according to skills and curriculum for the child's age. The main poin of the game is not to bring fun for a child, but bring necessary knowledge in a modern form which will handle to keep higher attention of a learner's and maintain his motivation for next studying.

Opportunities of mobile learning technology have been examined in multiple countries. Already in 2008, the Pocker School project come with result that mobile learning technology can thanks to its protability, low production costs, multiple features and sufficient memory space provide indigenous children with learning materials that could possibly teach them to read and thus to counter the effects of the education inequality in Latin America. Similar case study was transfered into practice in Africa, where some children in rural village with no schools and no access to education received specially designed tablets to allow them teach themselves to read. The results showed that the children, which took part in the study, encountered technology and literacy for the first time by using the tablet. Their results called attention to the highly collaborative aspect of children’s tablet interaction in those communities and that children become passionate learners and also teachers of their community.

Educational games on PacoGames

Educational games and electronic educational materials enjoys great popularity in developing countries, however, these assets have big opportunity in all areas. One part are games bringing a knowledge, the another one is the type of games which allow to test own skills. There is currently multiple gaming websites focused at educational games, unfortunately just a pinch of them is made with a focus to a user. Learning itself is not fun, thus to keep a user's taste to play these games in a longterm, we need to add additional add value. Great example of this type of games are various online quiz games such as Quiz Planet on Facebook.

Educational games on PacoGames are designed for a bit different use case, instead of need to defeat known opponents, users try to overcome their own historical results while historical data from the older gameplayes show them progress of their knowledge. For the start, we listed limited number of games in following main categories:

Other games with educational value and more information about educational games can be found in separated educational games section.

See others