The Game-Based Learning Revolution in Europe: A Look at Four Key Initiatives

In recent years the European Union has aggressively invested in research on innovative approaches to education, including game-based learning and gamification. Europe’s openness to new learning strategies is encouraging. Their many successful game-based learning efforts  serve as a model for games playing a critical role in improving education.

European Conference on Game-Based Learning
In October, educators, policymakers, game designers and business leaders from around the continent will convene for the 12th European Conference on Game-Based Learning. This time around, the event will take place at the Sophia-Antipolis campus of the SKEMA Business School, between Nice and and Cannes in southern France from October 4-5, 2018.

By fostering a vibrant exchange of ideas between people interested in new approaches to education throughout  the continent and around the world? , the conference plays a key role in pushing game-based learning into the mainstream and highlights key research on educational games.

European Schoolnet
European Schoolnet comprises education ministries from 34 countries that have joined forces to research and advance innovative teaching methods. Founded in 1997, the group is focused on leveraging technology to enhance education as well as making sure education across the continent is aligned with the technical skills 21st century employment demands.

Game-based learning has been a big focus for European Schoolnet. In Fall 2017, European Schoolnet partnered with Triseum to collect and analyze evidence on game-based learning from classrooms in five different countries: Norway, Portugal, Greece, Italy and Poland. The ongoing initiative, which focuses on the 2017/18 school year, will assess the impact of a variety of game-based learning strategies to help develop best practices educators across the world can use to drive their own curricula.

Open Education Europa
An initiative of the European Commission, Open Education Europa is aimed at helping educators across Europe share ideas on how to improve education through digital technologies.

One notable initiative, Making Games In Collaboration for Learning (MAGICAL), focused on the learning opportunities educators can unlock by getting students to design their own digital games. A group of researchers developed a platform students with no coding skills could use to create their own games. Classroom pilots in five countries (Belgium, Italy, Greece, Finland and the U.K.) introduced the concept to students ages eight to twelve, with very encouraging results. Researchers discovered strong evidence the process elicited a high level of engagement from the students and contributed to collaboration skills.

STEM Alliance
The STEM Alliance is an initiative supported by a variety of organizations and businesses that aims to equip young Europeans for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. To that end, one of its main goals is to develop new ways to get young people engaged and excited about STEM subjects. Naturally, game-based learning is an approach the organization has identified as holding promise in this regard.

In 2017, the STEM Alliance had three schools –– in Romania, Italy and Greece –– use Triseum’s adventure game, Variant: Limits, to teach calculus. The feedback from the participating students and teachers was extraordinarily positive. Students described the game as fun and effective at teaching the subject matter. “The game is really different from the other technologies I have tried out,” said one student., “It motivates you to continue playing and discover what else might be coming your way.”