Lev Vygotsky’s “Zone of proximal development” and his Sociocultural Theory opened new opportunities for interpretations of the learning process. Vygotsky’s ideas overlapped Jean Piaget’s and Erik Erickson’s assertions that cooperative learning, added to experimental learning, enhances the learning process. Peer interaction, according to them, is quintessential in accelerating the learning process (Piaget, 1970; Erickson, 1977; Vygotsky, 1978). Robert Gagné, B.F. Skinner, Albert Bandura, and others contributed and constructivism established itself as a valid theory in learning. Further, an excellent chapter of social learning theories is presented by Anderson, & Dron (2014).
Games are type of cooperative learning. Games embody the essence of constructivism, which for students/gamers means constructing their own knowledge while they interact (learn cooperatively). Learning can happen without games, yet games accelerate the process. Games engage. Games, specifically digital ones, relate to the digital natives, those born after 1976-80, who are also known as Generation Y, or Millennials (Howe & Strauss, 2000).
Millennials in the United States, as per the recent Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), are performing rather poorly compared to their peers from 22 countries around the world (Schaffhauser, 2015b). While research is still tackling the reasons why, novel approaches to learning needs to be considered for a generation, which differs from previous generations in acquiring information and constructing knowledge.
Millennials are gradually leaving the educational field and entering the working force, to be replaced in school settings by Generation Z (Levine & Dean, 2012). Gen Z, the next digitally- native generation, seeks changes of the learning process; changes even more drastic then the ones sought by the Millennials (Hackschooling, 2013). Gaming for Generation Z is not an alternative, but rather expectance. Gaming for Generation Z is associated with creativity (Jackson, A., Witt, Games, Fitzgerald, von Eye, & Zhao, 2012). Creativity, next to collaborative learning and knowledge construction, is one of the prevalent characteristics of games. Using games increases learning, making games increases learning more and is “tantamount to project- based learning” (Shapiro, 2014b).
Games and gamifying of the learning process transforms from a cutting edge idea to a regular expectance. Beyond a fad or choice, it becomes, next to lecturing, an expected teaching method, which we, the older generation of educators will have to consider as a feasible alternative to traditional “lecturing” type of teaching.
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