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Digital game based learning: an exploratory analysis of perceived educational benefits at a junior high school level.

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Date

2019

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Abstract

Digital Game Based Learning (DGBL) incorporates innovative tools that are widely recognized as having considerable potential to foster and support active learning, problem-solving and communication while providing an environment that embraces practice and learning through failure. The many proponents of DGBL believe that its use can provide a teaching approach that is relevant to the digital needs of the youth of today. Indeed, there are many studies that document the many benefits associated with DGBL for both teaching and learning. However, as was discovered in this study, there are many issues concerning the successful implementation and adoption of constructivist teaching technologies such as DGBL. Computer games can be expensive to purchase and difficult to personalise. Moreover, learners and educators alike; need to be convinced of their effectiveness before buying into their use. Furthermore, many educators simply do not have the time; or the expertise, to be able to effectively design and create games of their own. A problem exacerbated by the, perceived, high level of specialist expertise normally associated with game development. While there are many theorized benefits associated with DGBL there are as many issues concerning its successful implementation. The main purpose of this study was to investigate these theoretical benefits by addressing the following research questions: Can DGBL positively influence teaching and learning? And can DGBL positively influence learner perceptions of Information Technology (IT), with specific reference to coding? A survey was deployed after the implementation of an intervention within Grade 8 Computer Literacy classrooms. The instrument explored the perceptions and effectiveness of DGBL and served to inform the closed-ended questions used in the follow-up focus group interviews. To further support the data, educator interviews also took place post-intervention. The study found that DGBL did have a positive effect on both teaching and learning. Educator and learner views were either reinforced or changed in favour of a DGBL approach to teaching IT. The study recommended, further study into the academic and inter-disciplinary benefits of DGBL be conducted. The study also recommends the development of a set of guidelines on the use of DGBL as a means to support 21st century skills development in the classroom.

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Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.

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