Whether you call it "play-based learning" or "serious games," the use of gaming elements in higher education classrooms "is taking off," according to Mark Milliron, co-founder and chief learning officer of Civitas Learning, Austin, TX, and formerly chancellor of the Western Governors University-Texas, in his Thought Leader presentation at CAMEX 2014 in Dallas, TX.
Acceptance of the value of educational gaming in higher education is rising, Milliron said, partly because neurological studies show that gaming does enhance higher-brain functions. The military is already using simulation gaming in its training.
For college and university teaching, games are able to engage students in ways that traditional lectures and other methods cannot. The gaming format is already familiar to students, some of whom don't really feel at ease in the regular classroom.
"Anyone who has said kids can't concentrate haven't observed this behavior at all," Milliron noted, referring the way young people are able to focus their attention for long periods of time while playing a video game.
Some games allow students to work together to build skills and solve problems in an online environment, rather than learning on their own in isolation. That also helps to keep students engaged and on track. "The social connection of games really matters," Milliron said.