Learning is an omnipresent phenomenon, it happens all the time. Over a lifetime, we get exposed to a mammoth of information, and at times learning from it happens without any effort, often without realizing it. While at other occasions, some things are difficult to learn and require conscious effort. Across disciplines, there are many concepts of learning, but the one recurring concept they all have in common is a component of change.
All learning is active in the sense that a transition must be observed before something can be considered learned. Accepting learning definitions that are dependent on change and thus action necessitates dismissing the idea of passive learning. However, in the present era, the idea of passive learning has gained currency, and being educated has become equivalent to the mere accumulation of information. When people talk about passive learning, they usually refer to a situation in which the learner acts as a receiver without participating actively in the process of learning and the change. It is a one-way process wherein the learner is being “poured” with information regarding ‘what to think’ and ‘what to learn’ rather than ‘how to think’ and ‘how to learn’.
However, the need of 21st-century learners is to reiterate the components of ‘change’ and ‘action’ during the learning process. A child must be actively involved in the learning and concepts should not be transmitted from teacher to child but constructed by the child as an active participant. Children should be provided with an opportunity to process any new information, consider it further in the context of self and how it relates to their thought process, or even go further to consider its numerous real-life applications. Learning should be about creating as many as “aha!” moments for our children, where the epicentre of discovery and synthesis of new information resting inside the child is the main focus.
To implement dynamic and interactive models of learning, teaching pedagogy went about a change and started using the learning cycle as a model of instruction. These models are considered superior to “transmission-based” learning in which children are passive receivers of knowledge from their teachers. These learning cycles follow a 5 E’s process, including Engagement (mentally engaging children with an enquiry or activity), Exploration (children carrying out hands-on activities to make sense of a concept, or creating inquiry-based experience), Explanation (facilitator teacher explaining the concepts by building upon the skills introduced in previous phases), Elaboration (children applying their understanding of concepts while exploring new skills and reinforcing existing skills), and Evaluation (encouraging children to assess their understanding and abilities).
The learning process in game-based learning
Game-based learning is an active learning technique that uses characteristics and principles of game-play embedded within the learning activities to promote engagement, motivation to learn, and development of cognitive and social skills. The core concept behind game-based learning translates into a process of active learning. Children have to be actively involved in accomplishing goals, choosing appropriate actions, and experiencing the consequences of those actions. This form of learning enhances a child’s critical and analytical thinking, logical reasoning, experimentation through trial-and-error, converting the trial-and-error process into a system, and problem-solving skills. Games that involve multiple players can further promote collaborative thinking, empathy, and other socio-emotional life skills in children.
Konshius is a game-based learning program for nurturing the thinking abilities and learning potential of children. It is the only platform that experientially develops thinking about ‘how to think’ and creates learning about ‘how to learn’ in children using educational games and toys. Konshius advocates active learning, which keeps the child at the centre of the process and enables facilitators to structure their interactions with the learner while game-playing with the child. The science and design of Konshius games takes the child through 4 levels of learning: moving the child from unconscious incompetence to subconscious competence stage. (You can read more about the 4 levels of learning in blog – https://konshius.com/enabling-steam-learning-through-4-levels-of-learning-at-konshius/) However, different from the conventional teaching pedagogy, Konshius delivers this dynamic learning through a unique 5 stages process conducted between the learner (the children) and an adult (parent or a teacher) as a facilitator.
- Engage – This is the stage where the focus is to align all conscious thoughts of the learner on the game and excitement through interactions has to be built. The objective is to align learners’ thoughts and attention to the game by discussing game elements, characters in the game, learner’s relationship with these characters, game-play rules, etc.
- Explore – Once the engagement has been built and game-play rules are known, allowing the learner for a free-flow play of the game, as per the learner’s current knowledge. The objective is to allow the learner’s current thinking process to surface while playing the game activities. So, at this stage, it is imperative to allow the learner to experiment with hit and trial, discover mistakes, construct hypotheses, etc.
- Reflect – A joint guided exercise between the learner and the adult – enabling the learner to reflect upon the thinking process used while playing the game activity during the ‘Explore’ stage. Asking questions to make the learner see a better or different way of thinking about and thinking through the hypotheses, mistakes, trial method, etc. of the ‘Explore’ stage. Here, asking probing questions that enable the learner to verbalize thinking behind the actions taken by the learner during the ‘Explore’ stage is achieved. This verbalization opens the doors for ‘new ways of thinking’ as suggestions and helps in the rewiring of neural pathways.
- Assimilate – This is the stage where an adult and the learner are jointly applying the ‘new ways of thinking created in the ‘Reflect’ stage. Now, the learner is able to achieve desired outcomes of the game without doing any hit-and-trial and can articulate actions, and reasons for those actions, before taking the action. The process of verbalization initiated in the ‘Reflect’ stage is now used for ‘speaking about what the learner is thinking before taking an action.
- Innovate – Now, as a facilitator, discussions are initiated on real-life examples where the learner can apply the newly learned way of thinking. This will help the learner find value in new thinking ability for being useful in real-life situations. This will further strengthen the internal process of thinking about the application of any new learning, by relating any new learning to real life.
So, ultimately, the goal across these 5 stages is to create a safe and secure space in the learner’s mind so that they feel free to do hit and trial at first, and later, don’t feel judged when verbalizing what thought process or structure they used for taking actions. These 5 stages allow the learner to progress from a mere free-play to structured game playing. Each of these 5 stages is critical to the task at hand.
The interaction during the Reflection and Assimilation stage is at the heart of new learning. So, after prompting the learner to verbalize the thought process or structure that led to action(s), further questions are asked to encourage reflection. This methodology can be used to build a closer bond with the learner where both parties are sharing thoughts and not judging each other based on actions and behaviour. The facilitator and the learners jointly identify those areas that require some more profound conscious work. The situations where the learner could not succeed first and later could, through new ways of thinking, develop this lifelong confidence in the learner that any failure can be converted into success by changing the way of thinking or approach.
At Konshius our sole focus is to use thinking games and learning systems for promoting direct development of Cognitive, Emotional & Social Thinking Skills without using any academic subject. It is our endeavour to make this learning effective for all learners irrespective of their current academic performance or their socio-economic-cultural background.