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Serious games in formal education: Discussing some critical aspects

Popescu, M., Arnab, S., Berta, R., Earp, J., de Freitas, S., Romero, M., Stanescu, I. and Usart, M. (2011) Serious games in formal education: Discussing some critical aspects. In: 5th European Conference on Games Based Learning, 20 - 21 October, Athens, Greece pp. 486-493.

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Innovation in technology together with evolution in pedagogical approaches is encouraging increased integration of technology-supported interventions in mainstream teaching practices. One area attracting particularly close attention in this respect is Serious Games (SGs), which offer considerable potential for facilitating both formal and informal learning experiences in supported and standalone contexts. Advances in technology and in technology enhanced learning are raising learners’ expectations for immersive and engaging game-based experiences. This trend is underpinned by the emergence of young learners adept at using digital technologies and the internet; there is an attendant risk that, as students, they may be alienated by traditional education and its failure to engage them fully in a lifelong learning process and prepare them adequately for the challenges of the 21st Century. SGs would appear to offer an attractive solution in this regard. However, there are a number of inhibitors preventing their wider take-up in mainstream education, with the result that the considerable potential on offer has yet to be fully exploited. This situation is the background for the joint efforts of partners in the Games and Learning Alliance (GALA), an EC-funded Network of Excellence on SGs, especially the sub-group dedicated to the pedagogical dimension of SGs. In its discussions on the key challenges for more wide-scale and effective SG use, the group has focused in particular on aspects related to the central role played by the educator in formal education settings. Specifically, discussion has focused on the challenges posed when educators are called on to modify their practice, adopting the new roles and approaches demanded for effective SG deployment. This paper presents the outcome of the group’s exploration. It frames the question of the educator’s central role by drawing on research work that, in the view of the different authors, embodies the major references for shedding light on this multi-faceted aspect. As well as the new role that the educator assumes in games-based learning environments, particular attention is also dedicated to the innovative pedagogical approaches that can be applied to SG deployment, especially those inspired by peer collaboration.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Copyright: © The Authors 2011
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