How play is important for learning and cognitive development!
The importance of play was first described by Dutch researcher Huizinga in his treatise; he refers to play as a “meaningful activity, which is carried out for its own sake; in a separate space and has separate time allotted for it”. The art of playful learning i.e. playing with toys or other gadgets or objects in a hands-on fashion, has been shown by research, to be required for the development of the cognitive skills of the child. In fact, research has shown that learning is better when play is integrated into learning. This has lead to the development of toys and games, which can facilitate learning. The principle is that when people are engaged in activities which they enjoy, their learning would be better and more effective.
What is playful learning?
Playful learning with toys and gadgets, as relevant to the topic under discussion, is considered as contributors to active learning; it is supposed to enable use of the full senses such as kinaesthetic sense etc. There are numerous opportunities for incorporating playful learning into the curriculum. An example is seen in the scenario where students are engaged in pursuing their own creative projects in the direction of a particular study-related goal: they are actually engaging in hands-on play and yet, through that play they are also playing and understanding concepts. Examples of such projects include art and craft, modelling, engineering, and computing projects. A more modern version of playful learning is on the rise. That is edutainment.
A new version of playful learning – edutainment
Edutainment is a version of “playful learning” and involves the use of electronic games, simulations in the teaching and learning of science. The edutainment industry is growing by leaps and bounds as they seek to capture the attention of the student population who are into buying games. The industry is now incorporating the use of VGA chips (graphic accelerator chips), which can provide visuals, and graphics of very high quality. This is on the lines of the computer gaming industry, which uses these technologies in different kinds of games. Hence, such games could be used as models for development of educational games, which can be attractive, entertaining and also educational and teach students something. The gaming industry has the skills and expertise to do this when they are provided adequate background in education and pedagogy. This can be considered to be an example of serious gaming; a use of gaming for more serious purposes. There are various examples of such software, which enables students to create and solve puzzles concerning devices and physical phenomena, mathematics, creative thinking etc.
Is edutainment really an effective form of playful learning?
Some professors find that the use of edutainment as an approach to learning is highly artificial. The approach leans towards using entertainment as a tool to make education consumable. This, they feel, is not the correct approach. They teach you to consider entertainment as a reward for education. Learning is thought to be something indigestible and unpleasant, which needs to be dressed up in an appealing way to be consumed. Edutainment is here to stay; it is up to educators as to how much they can use it in a meaningful way without interfering with other more active forms of playful learning.
Guest Blog by Jacy Johnson
Jacey Johnson has been a member of the English Language Center and is now associated with www.aussieessays.com as student advisor. Her expertise includes planning and development of e-learning courses and programs. She’s writeaholic and passionate educator.
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