6.3.18 Game Based Learning – MarioKart

Today’s lecture introduced us to the concept of games based learning (GBL).  Not having experienced this before I was interested to find out that my preconception of this meaning children are spending a lot of time in classrooms playing computer games is completely misguided.  Indeed, what I have taken away from today is that the actual ‘game play’ time is a very limited part of the session plan however, that is sufficient to capture the enthusiasm of the children and their passion for these games and transfer that passion into their learning. This is in agreement with the Highter Edcuation Academy website where it states “Digital Games-based Learning is the integration of gaming into learning experiences to increase engagement and motivation.” (Higher Education Academy website)

In all of our classes in this module we have always placed an emphasis on ‘relevance’.  That if the learning experience feels relevant to the learner then they will engage with it and be motivated to learn.  Bringing commercial off the shelf (COTS) devices and games in to the classroom will undoubtedly pique the attention of the learners.  In a talk on The Future of Technology in Education, Ollie Bray, Headteacher at Kingussie High School, Scotland discussed many and varied ways to integrate GBL into the classroom.  Many of the points he made resonated with me.  One of the main points he made was in relation to the fact that a teacher can introduce many levels of learning through digital games and it will not even occur to the children that they are learning.  These can often be subjects that in another setting, the child would struggle to engage with, however, by including it in a cross-curricular lesson facilitated by GBL the children engage with the topic with ease.  Bray referred to the teacher as the ‘learning architect’ and this links to the guidance from Learning and Teaching Scotland when using GBL:

  • Game is used as the core within a broad range of activities
  • Role of the teacher – ensuring effective implementation of games, discussion and plenary
  • Be clear about learning intentions
  • Use appropriate games for tasks
  • Make clear links to experiences and outcomes
  • Be selective – use parts of the game relevant to meeting the intended outcome

(Learning and Teaching Scotland)

Our task today was based around the game MarioKart on the Nintendo Wii.  We were shown apsects of the game and under normal circumstances would have had an opportunity to play the game however due to problems with the console this was not possible.  This was not an issue as I have experience of this game having played it at home with my children.  I could see how this game time would have introduced me to the topic for the lesson and created quite a buzz in the classroom.  We then moved on to designing our own Mario kart and character individually, displaying a link between GBL and Art & Design.


We then moved in to group work where our brief was to discuss and then map out an Interdisciplinary learning plan around Mariokart.  Our efforts are displayed in the picture below!

We saw opportunities to have learning under the curricular areas of:

  • Expressive arts
  • Technology
  • Numeracy
  • Drama
  • Literacy

The Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes we linked to this lesson plan were:

I have the opportunity to choose and explore an extended range of media and technologies to create images and objects, comparing and combining them for specific tasks.            EXA 2-02a

I can explore and experiment with digital technologies and can use what I learn to support and enhance learning in different contexts.                                                                                          TCH 1-01a

I enjoy creating, choosing and accepting roles, using movements, expression and voice  EXA 1-12a

Inspired by a range of stimulae, I can express and communicate my ideas, thoughts and feelings through drama.                 EXA 0-13a            EXA1-13a             EXA 2-13a

By considering the type of text I am creating I can select ideas and relevant information, organise these in a logical sequence and use words which will be interesting and/or useful to others. LIT 1-26a

I can use money to pay for items and can work out how much change I should receive.  MNU 1-09a

I can manage money and compare costs from different retailers, and determine what I can afford to buy                                                                                                                                                MNU 2-09a

Having explored a range of 3D objects and 2D shapes I can use mathematical language to describe their properties and through investigation can discuss where and why particular shapes are used in the environment.                                                                                                                      MNU 2-16a

Going through the Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and outcomes for this task really drove home for me just how many could be achieved all steming from the use of a computer game in the class.  Reid states “Although game-based learning has had a ‘difficult history’ with teachers who may have felt threatened by children becoming more expert in technology than they are, there is no denying that such platforms offer them a way to engage the pupils in a way they understand and can relate to.” (Stephen Reid, Immersive Minds, cited on Future Scot online article)  I am feeling more and more confident through this module that I will not be fearful of integrating as much technology in to my classroom as is appropriate to provide the best learning environment I can.


Edutopia website [Online] Available at: https://www.edutopia.org/article/3-ways-use-game-based-learning-matthew-farber [Accessed 6.3.18]

Futurescot.com website [Online] Available at: http://futurescot.com/educators-encouraged-open-minds-possibilities-games-based-learning/ [Accessed 6.3.18]


Higher Education Academy website [Online] Available at: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/gamification-and-games-based-learning  [Accessed 6.3.18]

Scottish Executive (2004) Curriculum for Excellence. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive

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