Case Study: Application of Educational Games

Author by Leah Shea

7 minutes
Tags: eLearninggamesgamificationUX
Case Study: Application of Educational Games

The Background

Elsevier, a large publishing company, produces hundreds of educational titles each year. Traditionally, Elsevier publishes text books, with an increasing amount of content also delivered digitally. Both print and digital support a variety of content including instructional text, illustrations, and quizzes that test for retention.

As education makes advancements in eLearning through use and adoption of digital technology, more features are being introduced that are not available in print form. This includes games and gamification elements. Games are an incredibly effective tool, allowing content producers, editors, developers, and end users to interact with content in new and meaningful ways.

The Challenge

What is the value of gamification in eLearning? Does gamification really impact a student's educational experience?

First, we investigate the research. As with any development, adopting best practices can improve the overall experience. 

Over the past decade, many studies have been conducted around gamification or use of games within education. We have footnoted three such studies as references which is meant to be supportive, but by no means exhaustive.

Research indicates that certain types of gamification help students in three areas: 

1: Retention

Retention is the most obvious answer. Interacting with content through game play can test and improve a student's knowledge recall.

Several studies found that games establish more dynamic and informal relationships between a student and the subject matter. Essentially, when games offer a "fun" approach, it allows the student to connect on a deeper level, lower any anxiety about the subject (think advanced statistics), and remember content more clearly. 

2: Motivation

Motivation is important for students of all levels. Games provide a supportive learning outlet that introduces variety and competitiveness. When learning is monotonous, or only applied in one way, students may be less motivated to really engage.

Games also allow learning to be more student-directed, fostering that sense of motivation and pursuit of accomplishment.

3: Enhanced Problem-Solving

Learning is not about strict memorization of facts, but contextual incorporation of concepts and relevant application of critical details. In short, effective learning creates deeper critical thinking.

The role of games is to help the student apply their learnings in different ways. Learn by doing, or learn by contextualizing the information through game play. Think of scenario-based or timed games - both require the student to take action based on knowledge and get immediate feedback on right and wrong choices. Often games can provide nuances that mimic real life while still allowing the student to take risks.

The Solution

So, how do you enable interactive learning techniques effectively? Add more games! While that seems the obvious answer, there are specific types of games that lend to an improved learning experience.

Below are several examples of games introduced within the Elsevier applications. 

Medical Millionaire

Games that incorporate elements from popular game shows have different options for testing knowledge recall, including timed or untimed sessions, point systems, and rotating questions and subject matter.

Medical Millionaire is a game that tests applied concepts with increasingly difficult questions.

Medical Millionaire Home Screen Medical Millionaire Game Play

Quick Connections & Quick Squares

Games that incorporate multiple rounds test for deeper knowledge and understanding across a variety of topics. These games are meant to be timed and faster paced, with students bouncing from subject to subject and self-selecting topics and points.

Quick Connections Game  Quick Squares Game

Health Reports

Scenario-based games are increasingly popular and can take multiple forms. In Health Reports, we introduce students to reviewing medical charts and walking through various concepts, from identifying medical terminology to interpreting a test patient's diagnosis. This style is particularly effective in allowing students to contextualize decisions and knowledge.

Health Reports Game

The End Result

Interactive quizzes and games are added to dozens of applications that support published text books. The differentiator is not only in delivering high-quality instruction, but also enabling the tools for advanced learning in a fun, engaging way.

About this Case Study
Client: Elsevier Science
Type: Multiple Content Resource Applications
Fenio Annansingh. An Investigation into the Gamification of eLearning in Higher Education. 2018. 
Alan Chow, Kelly Woodford, and Jeanne Maes. Deal or No Deal: using games to improve student learning, retention, and decision-making. International Journal of Mathematical Education, March 2011.
Ian M. Devonshire, Jenny Davis, Sophie Fairweather, Lauren Highfield, Chandni Thaker, Ashleigh Walsh, Rachel Wilson, Gareth J. Hathway. Risk-Based Learning Games Improve Long-Term Retention of Information among School Pupils. 2014.

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