As an educational publisher, you are most likely keeping a close eye on the digital educational publishing landscape and see that game-based learning is an important component of it. Whether you have already implemented game-based learning into your product strategy or are just starting to think about it, I encourage you to visit Digital Game-Based Learning Strategies for Publishers to get an overview of options and best practices for publishers.
Here at Filament Games, we have a unique perspective on the educational publishing market for games. We’ve worked directly with digital educational publishers like McGraw-Hill and Zaner-Bloser to design and develop games on their behalf, and we also publish a learning games library that we sell directly to schools and individuals.
Games alone are not enough to sell your product or solution to schools. Yes, we know kids love games, but that’s both a blessing and a curse. Kids also love candy, staying up past their bedtime, and covering their younger sibling in silly string. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to run into buyers whose daily parenting struggle is getting their own children off the electronics so they can do their homework, eat dinner with the family, or, dare we say it, breathe some fresh air. So while we still encounter some skepticism about games in the classroom, we are committed to championing well-designed games in the classroom and demonstrating that they are so much more than a “fun break” from the “real learning.” Filament Games exists because we’ve witnessed first-hand the transformative power of games in the classroom and how well-designed game-based learning solutions can drive exceptional gains in understanding while being uniquely engaging.
Like any digital product, your game-based learning solution should both address a specific need and support all of the learning stakeholders. Knowing the unique challenges of appealing to your buyer with games, we have compiled a list of product development, marketing, and sales tips to consider as you formulate your game-based learning offering:
1. Offer Research-Supported Claims. Whether it’s a third-party conducted widespread study or a classroom study conducted by an early adopter teacher, effectiveness, engagement and/or retention data speaks volumes to your buyers. Other research angles that are interesting to study include the impact of games on attention, grit, and behavior improvements. Arm your buyer with the proof points they need to confidently purchase your product and fend off naysayers.
2. Provide Professional Development for Teachers. While the number of teachers using games in the classroom is growing, buyers can be concerned that their teachers are not comfortable or well-equipped to teach with games. This will be an issue for several more years until our digital natives move through the teaching ranks. Professional development can be delivered digitally, through a blended learning approach, or via instructor-led onsite training to make sure all of the teachers feel confident and well-prepared.
3. Support the Teacher with Curriculum. Research shows that games in the classroom are even more effective if supported by a teacher in the context of a curriculum. We’ve seen curriculum for games be everything from a bulleted list of complimentary activities to a formal teaching plan or full-on multi-day curriculum. Think of the game as another tool in the teacher’s tool chest of approaches. Buyers will want to know that, along with professional development, their teachers will have the support they need to effectively use your product in the classroom.
4. Develop a Data and Assessment Strategy. Learners want to receive feedback that they have mastered concepts and want to feel confident that they can apply them in the real world. Teachers want to know which learners have mastered which concepts and how to tailor their instruction to address any concepts their students aren’t understanding. While it’s common to think of assessment as a quiz, games provide a variety of assessment strategies that are 1) a more positive experience for the learner and 2) more effective at accurately measuring the learner’s comprehension, which we blogged about here. From a technical perspective, we can collect and present the data in a stand-alone dashboard or store it in an existing dashboard or commercial LMS.
5. Allow for Real-Time Intervention. While some games are designed as multi-player experiences where teachers and students enter the gameplay together in real time (as in The Radix Endeavor), most games used in the classroom are designed as a single-player experience. While we encourage teachers to circulate during classroom play to guide and assist when necessary, we also have seen that real-time teacher dashboards can be effective at monitoring real-time progress and providing notice when a student requires intervention. Buyers will want to know that their teachers have access to the tools they need to be an active part of their student’s learning.
6. Consider Access Outside of the Classroom. While games can be used as an instructional tool in the classroom, games are also a great way to allow learners to continue the experience after school or on breaks. When planning your design, consider ways to give buyers the option to allow their learners to play at home, extending the use of your product.
7. Consider Hardware Limitations. While there is a push in many districts to go 1:1, several schools are still hampered by restrictive hardware limitations that must be considered when designing your game-based learning solution. We generally encourage educational publishers to design games to be played in the browser and consider an app-based strategy as complementary.
Have questions about how to get the most out of your game-based learning offering? Drop us a line - we’d love to chat!