Digital Game Based Learning for Teachers

Digital Game-Based Learning, whose non-technology roots go deep in the past, has become the learning wave of the future (Prensky, 2001). Large-scale digital games and simulations are becoming increasingly integrated, rich media contexts with multiple layers of social media (Gibson, 2008).When education or training feels dull, we are not being engaged and motivated. In other words we are not really learning. This is where digital game based learning comes in. As it turns out for many years’ video game designers have been producing and refining highly motivating learning environments for their players to enjoy (Tyrbus, 2012). Within an effective digital game based learning environment computer games might be used as a way of motivating those learners who are struggling with the curriculum, and children who are all too often less engaged with the learning process (Holmes, 2011)

Educational tools are highly motivating; in particular, digital games are often regarded as being highly effective for fostering learning mainly because of their expected positive effect on student involvement, attention and motivation starting from the very first school years (Ott & Tavella, 2009). The knowledge and skills entailed in game-based informal learning environments include some of the most difficult to measure and document, but they are, nevertheless, universally heralded as crucial to the success of formal education (Gibson, 2008). Digital Game-Based Learning is an alternative that is being utilized for: material that is dry and technical; subject matter that is difficult; audiences that are hard to reach; difficult assessment; complex process understanding; and strategy development and communication with amazing and increasing success (Prensky, 2001).

Roberson and Miller (2009) investigated the effects of a commercial off-the-shelf computer game on children’s mental computation skills and on aspects of their self-perceptions, noting:

  • Improvements in children’s academic work: tables, basic computation, writing
  • Truanting and lateness had dramatically improved in some classes (the Nintendo’s were used at the start of the school day)
  • Children were keen to take responsibility for the management aspects (collection, distribution, charging etc)
  • Improvements in interpersonal relationships (children taking a supportive interest in the performance of peers)
  • Children believed that they were ‘smarter’ as a result of using the game.

Tüzün, Yilmaz-Soylu, Karakuş, İnal, and Kizilkaya (2009) examined primary school students’ achievement and motivation in geography learning through an educational computer game concluding that, when compared to the traditional school environment, students showed statistically significant higher intrinsic motivations and statistically significant lower extrinsic motivations while learning through the game-based learning environment. It was further found that computer games embrace the characteristics of the new pedagogy in terms of providing authentic and relevant learning environments and increasing learners’ autonomy.

Digital Game Based Learning in Learning and Teaching

Satisfying a range of functions digital game based learning can:

  • Provide a focus and structure for the learning, using repetition and feedback that students’ find to be helpful
  • Support some independent learning and contribute to increases in self-confidence (Holmes, 2011).
  • Motivate in the subjects and content that are the most difficult to teach or train — either because they are extremely dull and dry or extremely complicated, or both, and to get people to train themselves.
  • Improve the learning, and ultimately the competence and behaviour of learners.
  • Create engagement-driven, experience-centered, “fun” approaches to teaching and learning with effective techniques for teaching the material, facts, concepts, skills, reasoning and behaviours that students and workers are required to learn.
  • Promote user-driven learning
  • Produce a learning world, like the game and movie worlds of today with the goal of holding their audience and being successful in learning, where learners look forward to the next release as eagerly as they wait for an upcoming game, console or movie (Prensky, 2001).

Digital Game Based Learning and ICT pedagogy:

Within AusVELS ICT is an interdisciplinary domain that focuses on providing students with the tools to transform their learning and to enrich their learning environment. From foundation to level 4 students become familiar with the main components of a computer and develop their hand-eye coordination by using a mouse to control the cursor/pointer on the screen (VCAA, 2012). Here digital game based learning can be employed to meet the ICT focus that aims to provide students with the tools to transform their learning and to enrich their learning environment.

Digital game based learning can be used to solve problems, experiment with simple ICT tools and strategies, and students can begin to consider how these tools can be used for solving new problems. The knowledge, skills and behaviours identified for this domain enable students to:

  • Develop new thinking and learning skills that produce creative and innovative insights
  • Develop more productive ways of working and solving problems individually and collaboratively
  • Create information products that demonstrate their understanding of concepts, issues, relationships and processes
  • Express themselves in contemporary and socially relevant ways
  • Communicate locally and globally to solve problems and to share knowledge
  • Understand the implications of the use of ICT and their social and ethical responsibilities as users of ICT (VCAA, 2012).

All of these knowledge, skills and behaviours identified above could potentially be met through digital game based learning.

Digital Game Based Learning, leadership, implementation and evaluation:

Following the Australian Government’s commitment to the Digital Education Revolution (DER), a number of initiatives have been funded through the ICT Innovation Fund (ICTIF) to support teachers and school leaders to more effectively integrate the use of information and communication technology into classroom teaching and learning. The skills, understandings and technologies investigated in the professional learning materials will include:

  • Understanding and using digital content
  • Mobile devices
  • Collaboration tools and devices
  • Game-based technologies
  • Communication tools and devices (DEEWR, 2011)


Beauchamp, G. (2011). Interactivity and ICT in the primary school: categories of learner interactions with and without ICT. Technology Pedagogy and Education. 20(2). Page 175-190. Date Retrieved: 1 November 2012. Retrieved From: Taylor & Francis Online

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). (2011). Education Services Australia: ICT in Everyday Learning: Teacher Online Toolkit. Date Retrieved: 11 November 2012. Retrieved From:

Gibson, D. (2008). Editorial: Make it a Two-way connection: A response to “Connecting Informal and Formal Learning Experiences in the Age of Participatory Media”. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Tacher Education. 8(4). Page 305-309. Date Retrieved: 1 November 2012. Retrieved From: Google Scholar

Holmes, W. (2011). Using game-based learning to support struggling readers at home. Learning Media and Technology. 36(1). Page 5-19. Date Retrieved: 1 November 2012. Retrieved From: Taylor & Francis Online

Ott, M., & Tavella, M. (2009). World Conference on Educational Sciences 2009: A contribution to the understanding of what makes young students genuinely engaged in computer-based learning tasks. Procedia Social and Behavioural Sciences. 1. Page 184-188. Date Retrieved: 1 November 2012. Retrieved From: ScienceDirect

Prensky, M. (2001). The Digital Game-Based Learning Revolution: Fun at Last. Digital Game-Based Learning. Page 1-19. Date Retrieved: 11 November 2012. Retrieved From:

Robertson, D., & Miller, D. (2009). World Conference on Educational Sciences 2009: Learning gains from using consoles in primary classrooms; a randomised controlled study. Procedia Social and Behavioural Sciences. 1. Page 1641-1644. Date Retrieved: 1 November 2012. Retrieved From: ScienceDirect

Trybus, J. (2012). Game-Based Learning: What it is, Why it works, and Where it’s Going. Date Retrieved: 11 November 2012. Retrieved From:–what-it-is-why-it-works-and-where-its-going.html

Tüzün, H., Yilmaz-Soylu, M., Karakuş, T., İnal,Y., & Kizilkaya, G. (2009). The effects of computer games on primary school students’ achievement and motivation in geography learning. Computers & Education. (52). Page 68-77. Date Retrieved: 1 November 2012. Retrieved From: ScienceDirect

Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA). (2012). The Australian Curriculum in Victoria: Welcome to AusVELS. Date Retrieved: 12 November 2012. Retrieved From:


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