With the introduction of e-learning more than a decade ago, learners were mostly confined to a computer and accessing learning at a specific location through CBTs which were essentially page-turners. Recent developments in internet and wireless technologies have led to the emergence of devices that allow us to access information anywhere and anytime. Most of these devices are interconnected, giving us the context we need and creating a ‘smart’ universe for us.
Mobile devices are now being used for learning as well, and true to their character, they are providing the much needed context in learning as well. Mobile learning provides the users with access to learning regardless of time and location. Networked mobile devices allow learners to learn collaboratively in groups. As e-learning developers, our main focus has to be on the ways that learners can be best engaged. Game based learning has been immensely successful in corporate circles as well, to create impactful learning opportunities for employees. Now learning games are available on mobile devices of learners as well and this takes their popularity on a whole new level.
1. Game as a learning tool
Though games are always fun, learning has to be the focus for organizational learning games. Even learners prefer games which have a clear learning focus and provide multiple opportunities to learn new things within the environment. Most corporate learners realize the benefits of learning and are not opposed to games which provide lots of learning opportunities. Learning games can teach new skills, enhance knowledge, provide opportunities for practice and provide feedback on performance as well. This checks all the boxes in the list of expectations that most corporate learners have from workplace learning opportunities.
2. Interaction with the gaming environment is always fun!
The gaming environment itself is the biggest factor that decides whether the learning endeavour will be successful or not. If the environment is interesting and it presents appropriate challenges to the learners, the learning game will succeed on the mobile platform. While games are very appropriate for the mobile platform and most learners are used to playing popular games on their devices, designing games for the mobile devices should take into considerations of screen size and mobile specific capabilities like touch screens. Though many developers are not very enthusiastic about mobile learning games being touch-screen enabled, due to the simple reason that they want the games to be accessible to the learners on laptops or computers as well – most of which do not have touch screen feature. But this apprehension is beginning to fade as most learners are clearly showing their preferences for mobile learning games – especially ones that are designed to perform best on mobile devices.
3. Learning and Playing – anywhere
The biggest benefit of mobile learning is that it provides learning opportunities anywhere and anytime. This benefit is enhanced further for learning games as most learners are willing to try out the game even in their free time, making use of non-productive times like travelling or waiting between jobs and so on. Mobile platform provides an unobtrusive way of learning through games – even when there is no or limited internet access.
4. Learning and Collaborating through games
Gaming is a powerful medium of collaborative learning as well. Learners can connect with other learners through the game by posting scores or achievements on a ‘leaders’ board’ or sharing tips on a discussion board. Slow learners can ask for help and get it from achievers who have been performing exceptionally. Not only can this boost the morale of the learner group but it boosts the spirit of healthy competition as well. Collaborative tools built within the games like a comments section can be the collaborative ground for discussions and learning. It can also give helpful tips to developers who want to understand what works best for learners and align learning content as per the preferences of the learners.
5. Creating content with games
Modern learning games also provide opportunities for creating content with the help of audio or video recording. The use of mobile devices is very useful when providing the ready opportunity for learners to record on their mobile devices and share with their peers. Since most mobile devices have in-built hardware as well as software for recording as well as sharing, it is easy for learners to create learning content based on their experiences. Learners can share their achievements, tips for excel within the game as well as enhancing skills that can be learnt from the games and utilized in work-related tasks as well.
Mobile devices and games make a great combination, not just for entertainment but for learning as well. With the evolution of gaming technology and better mobile devices, the experience of game-based learning is becoming more impactful than ever.