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Educational Entertainment, otherwise known as Edutainment, refers to shows or video games that are designed for learning purposes. Although the term might be fairly new, the concept has existed for hundreds of years since the Renaissance and the Enlightenment movements. Komensky haș been known to familiarize the idea of ‘school as play’. Walt Disney popularized this in 1954 with media that primarily intended to teach but also had entertainment value. Shows like ‘Sesame Street’ and ‘Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood stands out as contemporary examples of edutainment.
Recently a lot of case studies have been done in this field to provide evidence that education combined with entertaining media does improve absorption and retention of the learning materials. Research done on a focus group has shown that 83.8% of students agreed that the use of Edutainment software increases their understanding toward the topic that has been taught while 96.6% of students show their interest in using Edutainment software in the learning process.
So the concept is not new, what is new is that technological advancements have created a new category of edutainment that can be experienced on the digital platform. Edutainment as it stands today can be broadly categorized into three different types.
First, edutainment can include tactile games that teachers use in the classrooms to simultaneously educate and entertain students. These are tangible toys that students can touch to learn about concepts in architecture, fine art or engineering. Strategy board games like Catan can help young minds understand the concepts of government, history and civic settlements. Similarly playing chess can immensely improve logical and critical thinking.
Some of the popular games used in classrooms are
● Jigsaw puzzles
Getting out of the classroom and experiencing the world around us is not a novel concept. In fact in ancient civilizations, the bulk of learning happened while students performed different experiential activities along with their peers. Field trips are the most common type of experiential edutainment. After students have learnt about the aquatic ecosystem, teachers might take the entire class to a nearby tide pool or an aquarium. During these visits, students get to touch and feel the animals and learn by watching them in their habitat. Museums allow students to learn about history, science and engineering by experiencing objects. These tours also teach them about teamwork, coordination and communication.
Educators have been using documentaries and fictionalized movies to teach about historical events or scientific phenomena for many years now. But the recent rise of online games and shows created solely to support learning bring in a new era of edutainment. They promote learning at each step with a gamified reward system to keep students motivated and encourage them to continue learning. These platforms have a points pr badge system which students can earn once they accomplish a certain level.
The new genre of gamified learning platforms are popular not just for the students but have a lot of built-in tools to make the teachers’ jobs easier as well to manage and reward learning. The educational games also help transform conventional classrooms into smart classrooms which add interactive and collaborative learning methods. Digital edutainment platforms encourage personalized learning which is a huge benefit for students who are not on the same trajectory of learning as everyone else is. Thoughtfully selected platforms can provide students with an infinite potential to learn. Students can learn anywhere since technology is portable.
Digital edutainment platforms can help children learn Digital Citizenship, which is one of the essential skills of the 21st century where students learn about how to behave responsibly in the online world. With edutainment platforms, students are already learning how to responsibly use their passwords and not share critical personal information over the internet. Certain programs provide collaborative opportunities where students can work with each other over the online learning platform which allows them to learn critical competencies about communicating online, empathy and meaningful engagement.
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