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Learning is fun: Play to learn with game-based learning

18.06.2012

By Assoc. Prof. Thanomporn Laohajaratsang, Ph.D., Director, Information Technology Service Center, Chiang Mai University

Today’s students are different from the past. They are living in the digital world where technology is easily accessible. Working with information in the digital world is an essential skill, and computer-based learning has become more important than ever. For the contemporary student, learning does not always mean a formal situation in which acquiring knowledge from teachers directly is the only approach available, and learning approaches that worked well with students in the past do not necessarily work as well with the “digital native” students of today. Several attempts have been – and are being -- made by educators to seek for a new learning approach suitable to the new information-rich digital environment.

The Information Technology Service Center, Chiang Mai University (CMU) has designed and developed online Game-Based Learning to enhance learning through learners’ interaction with games under the principle notion that “Learning is Fun.”  Learners who access the CMU online Game-Based Learning will not only gain understanding of the learning content, but will also simultaneously develop other skills, including communication skills.

 “Eurasia”
Eurasia is an online game for young students that allows synchronous interaction for several players. “Eurasia” blends content derived from four primary-level learning subjects: 1) science, 2) Thai Language, 3) social studies, and 4) occupational foundation and technology.  The design of Eurasia is based on the conceptual framework of goals, rules, competition, challenge, fantasy, curiosity, and entertainment. The major goal of the game is to accomplish all the assigned missions by trying to answer questions based on interaction with the game’s characters.  The game is fun; players enjoy collecting rewards along the way when they solve various types of problems from different learning subjects.  Eurasia has already become a popular game for Thai learners at the primary level in Thailand.

Eternal Story
Eternal Story is a visually captivating 3D interactive online Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG). The educational content offered in the game is a reengineered version of the popular Fundamental English course which has been used with Thai students throughout the Kingdom for many years. The design of Eternal Story is based on the conceptual frameworks of Keller's ARCS (Attention, Relevance, Confidence and Satisfaction) model. Learners take the roles of warriors, completing assigned tasks via interaction with non-player characters. The fun is derived from traveling through the beautifully-designed fairy tale world and gathering rewards along the way by destroying monsters. CMU freshmen are now enjoying Eternal Story as a part of their English learning experience each year.  Eternal Story is considered the first and only language learning tool of its kind in Thailand, and it won the Best Serious Game DMA Award 2010 from the Venture Capital Forum Asia 2010 because of its great potential to form an integral part of student language learning in the future.

In sum, Game-Based Learning is an alternative method of learning for today’s students, and a complement to traditional learning models.  This is because it not only makes learning fun by employing the concept of “edutainment”, but also it promotes learner participation and provides them with control over their learning.

For more information on Eurasia and Eternal Story, please visit itscgames.cmu.ac.th