Distance learning with serious games



Due to COVID-19, teaching and classes are more frequent online. This new form of education is not always easy to integrate. For primary school children, for example, it is difficult for them to understand why they have to study at home. Serious gaming can be a solution to make distance learning accessible because games can be played at home.

Teaching online: the challenges and solutions with serious games

Digitisation in education is a development that has been ongoing for years. But it mainly concerns the use of digital tools in the classroom. Think of a digital blackboard. Before the corona crisis, online teaching was not an everyday occurrence. After the virus broke out and the schools had to partially close down, a switch had to be made to digital teaching. It was an exciting period. Of course, children and young people can now sit in a classroom again, but technological developments in digital education and distance learning are things that, given its advantages, remain.

There are, of course, quite a few challenges in online teaching. What challenges are there and how can serious games help to solve them? Let us look at the three biggest challenges in digital education.

At home, how can you sustain a child’s attention on school work?

In a classroom, it is logically easier to hold pupils’ attention and let them work with the teaching material for a longer period. It is not for nothing that there is a teacher present who provides a programme with explanations and exercises. The teacher already holds the pupils’ attention by simply being present in the classroom.

Gamification in education is a teaching method that has been used in schools for a long time. Gamification, the application of game elements in education, can help to keep a pupil’s motivation and commitment even longer. Think of quiz games such as Kahoot, in which pupils can answer questions live via their smartphone and immediately see the scores of themselves and their classmates.

(Tip: do you want to know the difference between gamification and serious games? Read this!)

When the child is sitting at home, this is of course more difficult. For example, lesson material can be treated via video calls and parents can help with homework. It is a solution, but not the most ideal scenario. Serious gaming can be an ideal scenario for this challenge. Serious games can be played remotely, including at home on the couch. Because a serious game does not feel like a ‘teaching material’, it is played for a long time by the student. This has to do with the fun factor in a game.

How do you explain subjects through a serious game?

If you think back to the time when you were in primary or secondary school, you will undoubtedly remember the ‘pizza’ or ‘cake’ exercise. There are 4 cakes and 28 people on a birthday, in how many dots should the four cakes be cut so everyone gets one piece of cake?

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Explaining a complex lesson material with an example, such as a cake, is a metaphor. A metaphor is also called imagery. Understanding a complex subject is made easy by giving a certain image. This is a proven technique that has been used in education for centuries.

A serious game is also often used to convey the complex matter to the user. That is why serious games also have a metaphor, namely the game story, the setting, and the environment. These factors of serious games make for a compelling experience and motivate the player to remain engaged. Also, they ensure knowledge transfer.

How do you gain insight into what pupils are doing?

As mentioned earlier, it is, of course, nice that a pupil can play a serious game at home. But the teacher needs to gain insight into the pupil’s results and progress. Using traditional teaching methods and homework at a distance can be difficult and very time-consuming.

A serious game can be as simple as a game played on a smartphone or tablet. The great thing about this technique is that data from the players can be processed via a database. It is then possible to create an online environment where the teacher gains insight into the student’s performance, clearly arranged in one platform and with real-time results. Subsequently, the teacher can discuss the results with the pupil remotely.

In practise: Garfield’s Count Me In

In 2016 Grendel Games developed a serious game called ‘Garfield’s Count Me In‘. The maths game helps primary school children to practice their maths skills. The game can be played remotely. Garfield’s Count Me In is based on ‘Het Rekenmuurtje’, a model to learn arithmetic. This model includes several challenges that need to be completed for progress to the next tasks.

The Garfield game takes place on a planet where wonderful number-creatures live. Garfield must use these number-creatures to free his friends who have been abducted by vicious space dogs. By solving arithmetic problems, the game progresses and challenges are completed. As you can already see, the game contains an exciting story, setting and environment: the metaphor. This metaphor helps to convey the lesson material, making maths fun. Because of the fun factor in the game, the pupils continue playing for considerably longer durations.

Both parents and teachers can follow the pupil’s progress on a dashboard. This dashboard shows the pupil’s performance per exercise. The teacher also has access to all the results of the whole class and can make comparisons and give guidance to children.

Want to know more about Garfield’s Count Me In? Click here!

Now that you know the benefits of teaching online through serious games, it’s important to look at how to make the right choice for a serious game and what to look out for. Would you like to know this? In this article we tell you more!


We want to tell you so much more about serious games! Do you want to know more? Please contact Tim Laning to have a talk:

Tim Laning

Business developer

Do you want to know more about the possibilities of serious games? Let’s discuss what serious games can do for you.


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