More than one in five Maltese students (20.9%) leave school early because they feel unmotivated, bored, and unengaged. The European Union’s goal is to bring this down to 10% by 2020. Perhaps unexpectedly, video games may offer a solution.
High-quality video games are super immersive, drawing players into a new world they can interact with and explore, learning the lore and honing skills as they go. With this in mind, Dr Vanessa Camilleri (Faculty of ICT and her team have built Game-Based Learning to Alleviate Early School Leaving (GBL4ESL),a project that aims to have games incorporated better into the classroom to engage students more, enhance their learning and reduce the rate of early school leaving.
Games have been used in school for decades, however, in their current state they are nothing more than thinly veiled attempts at dressing up education, and students aren’t fooled. Games need to be engaging enough for students to acquire knowledge and skills without realising it
Among its essential features, a game includes a problem to be solved and a solution to be found within the framework of a ruleset that may or may not be explicitly stated. Through a toolkit of digital games, the GBL4ESL project aims to facilitate incorporating these concepts into lesson plans. It also includes a guidebook explaining how these games can be used most efficiently.
Educators from the participating institutions tested the guidebook and toolkit, coming back with positive feedback. Games boosted creativity as students were tasked to design puzzles for their peers. Communication and design skills got some attention as a result also.
There currently are no policies advising or regulating the use of gaming the classroom, so a potential next step is standardising the implementation of such games.