According to a 2014 article by Keeler, digital classroom games fall into three categories: game-based learning, playsheets, and gamification. Game-based learning is “when students play games to learn content” while gamification is “the application of game-based elements to non-game situations” (Keeler). Playsheets provide an opportunity for content to be reinforced somewhere between game-based learning and gamification.
Keller (2014) explains that playsheets are worksheets converted into a digital form that add graphics, sounds, a progress bar, levels, or badges. Brain Pop, Khan Academy, and Quia offer games that can be classified as playsheets. In my opinion, playsheets are the easiest to implement in my classroom due to their availability of stored games along with the ease of creating a new game.
Kurley Ferguson summarizes some of the key reasons why game use has educational benefits in her 2014 dissertation. A few of those points include encouraging learners who lack interest, building confidence, reducing instructor load, enhancing retention, enhancing creative and critical thought, and providing a concrete representation for abstract content.
It can be difficult to keep students interested in their math practice or to get them interested in the first place. Sometimes, the confidence that can come from a game badge will help to get the students doing more practice. Critical thinking, problem solving, and retention are common issues that many of my colleagues in the math department note as areas of weakness for our students. Kurley Ferguson’s findings that games can assist in developing some of those shortfalls is reassuring.
Kurley Ferguson, T. L. (2014). Mathematics achievement with digital game-based learning in high school algebra 1 classes (Doctoral dissertation).
Keeler, A. (2014). Beyond the worksheet: Playsheets, GBL, and gamification. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/beyond-worksheet-playsheets-gbl-gamification-alice-keeler