School’s out, but that doesn’t mean learning has to be! During the holiday break, it can be hard to keep your kids from just having fun instead of mixing it in with educational things. One way to break this cycle is to make it learning engaging to students by combining it with entertainment.
Let’s take a look at some of these forms of “edutainment” and how they can be leveraged in classrooms to improve the learning experience.
Games aren’t just about having fun. The degree of interactivity and opportunities for exploration provided by games is a boon for any student who prefers tactile learning, and will also allow anyone to experience new kinds of learning that wouldn’t just be possible with a book or a video.
Research shows that combining games with certain metacognitive strategies may improve cognition in students. Games can effectively teach concepts such as programming, symbolic logic, and basic arithmetic in meaningful ways that stick to memory. Educational video games are especially effective on the smartphones that nearly every child will have, allowing them to train their brains regularly.
There are also video games that aren’t explicitly designed to be educational, but have a lot of value regardless. Kerbal Space Program is a rocket simulator game that gives students hands-on experience with orbital mechanics, a topic that is not very intuitive and is extremely difficult to teach in the classroom. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, the latest installment in the famous historical fiction video game series, puts players into a faithfully recreated Ancient Greece, providing them with insight into a time in history that is rarely depicted in media. These kinds of games are best when some kind of time investment is put into them, so they’re a great choice to play over the holidays.
Classroom roleplaying is a very interesting way of applying learning, as it already puts students in a decision-making position related to the topic at hand. It’s engaging, and also teaches a variety of skills depending on the topic. For example, putting players in the position of political figures teaches critical thinking, ethics, and utilitarianism whenever the players must make decisions that could affect the welfare of a hypothetical population. This may also foster creativity in students as they look for unique problem-solving means or thinking outside the box to face challenging scenarios.
Gamification adds elements of video game design to the learning experience. Teachers can add a narrative and characters to introduce topics through storytelling, add player progression with achievements, badges, leaderboards, and the like, introduce collaboration and problem-solving elements, and more. These methods create a holistic learning experience that teaches many things at once, while keeping students interested.
Many educational tools employ gamification today to help enhance learning. Duolingo is an app that helps people learn new languages, and 34 hours of use are thought to be as effective as a semester of language learning in university. It uses goals, trophies, and other gamification elements to help encourage players. Having your kids practice their second or even third languages with Duolingo over the holidays can keep their language acquisition ongoing even while they’re not learning in school.
Swiss International School Dubai understands the value of play and engagement in learning. Our curriculum supports the use of games and creative expression in the learning process. Not only that, but we also encourage our students to explore their horizons in our Innovation Labs, even outside of class hours.
However, learning doesn’t end when the semester does, and it’s important to keep your kids sharp even while they rest. Combining these forms of education and entertainment can encourage them to keep learning constantly!