This paper puts forward a new design perspective for gamebased learning. The general idea is to abandon the long sought-after dream of designing a closed learning system, where students in both primary and secondary school could learn – without the interference of teachers – whatever subject they wanted while sitting in front of a computer. This describes a caricature, I know, but it still lurks in the background whenever we speak of, read or write about learning with computer games. The entire field of learning with games is called ‘serious games’, since they find themselves on a direct collision course with off-the-shelf, commercial entertainment games. This paper promotes two different yet interconnected ideas. The first aims to describe a new design perspective for game-based learning, which in many ways not only will provoke the abovementioned latent dream of a closed game-based learning system, but will also confront aspects of modern learning theory, especially the notion of reference between the content of an assignment and the reality with which it should or could be connected (situated learning). The second idea promotes a way of tackling the common experience of the average learner from primary to secondary school. He or she is often unable to fully grasp, understand or comprehend the learning process in which he or she is embedded. Portfolios, and especially e-portfolios, can be used to encourage reflection on both the learner’s development and the learning process in order to ground the student’s reason to learn. This paper proposes a different approach: using visualisation in immersive 3D worlds as both documentation of learning progress and as a reward system which motivates further learning. The overall design idea is to build a game based learning system from three or more different, yet interconnected, elements; namely a teacher, a web-based platform and an immersive game or play world.
Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 2012, Vol 23, Issue 4, p. 313-323