APPLICATION OF SERIOUS GAMES IN HIGHER EDUCATION. WHAT ARE THEY? HOW, WHERE AND WHEN TO USE THEM?

J.S. Artal-Sevil

University of Zaragoza (SPAIN)
When Flipped Teaching appeared in higher education, it created high expectations about its effects on student motivation. However, despite all this buzz, or perhaps because of it, not all the opinions being published about the Flipped concept are positive ones. At present, many teachers consider Blended-Learning as an optimal strategy in higher education. This new pedagogical approach allows combining traditional learning with other educational techniques such as Just-in-Time Teaching, Serious Games or Game-based Learning. This methodology has a pedagogical effectiveness superior to the traditional system. It should also be noted that multimedia resources and ICT tools provide the necessary mechanisms to implement good educational innovation. The results also show that Blended-Learning model can promote a more participatory learning, stimulates motivation and enhances students' digital skills. Students can learn more and better.
Nowadays, free software and mobile applications are preferred, especially from the student’s view. It is the result of the implementation of the BYOD model (Bring Your Own Device) in higher education. All these ICT tools have made possible to improve the digital competences of the students. The new technologies do not make a teacher good or bad since by themselves they are useless. Education is very simple, not easy. A good teacher knows how to teach and helps to learn the students. Now, together with an appropriate methodology, these digital resources can facilitate and improve the learning process. The goal is to know, how and where, to use this technology. The options are endless, always as a complement to the educational strategy. The technology applied in the classroom can improve the integration, motivation and participation of the students. An example is the application of serious games in the classroom; although the different ICT tools can also increase the distraction level in the students.
All these activities are opposed to the passive approach in the traditional class; where the protagonist is only the teacher. Thereby, the use of ICT tools is essential. The purpose is to improve classroom dynamics and develop collaborative learning activities. In summary, the method proposes a much more student-based teaching. In this way, the student changes from a passive role to an active role. The goal of serious games is to create an experience in which the user has fun, and although at first glance the student plays, he also learns. This is the advantage of serious games. Some training games that can be easily adapted to the classroom are Angry Birds, SimSchool, Hackend, ReMission, Dragon Box Elements, Class-Craft, Math Royale, etc. Likewise, why not use computer games as an educational resource? This type of games allows us to capture the attention of students by increasing the motivation factor.
In this paper, the author reflects on the implementation of serious-games in higher education; indicating some contexts where this strategy can be useful and effective. The experience presented was carried out at the Master degree. The learning results obtained allow us to maintain a positive attitude in their applicability in higher education. From the student's viewpoint, the results also were satisfactory. In this way, the strengths and weaknesses of this educational resource are shown. The presented model has been suggested as an alternative approach to improve efficiency in the learning process.