How has learning biology enriched your life

Alexander Lehmann

How can serious games enrich lessons and effectively convey neurobiological learning content?

There is now an almost unmanageable number of new, digital media available for teaching biology. One of the tools from this extensive tool case are the so-called serious games. Such "serious games" should not only serve the purpose of pure gaming pleasure, but above all to impart specialist knowledge. The article gives an overview of the reasons why knowledge transfer with serious games can be successful. Using the web-based learning software Blue Brain Club, he also shows how the complex and abstract topic of neurobiology in particular benefits from this approach.
Added value of serious games in the classroom
If you use digital media in the classroom, you should have answered the question beforehand what added value they have compared to tried and tested media such as worksheets (Le / Weber / Ebner 2013). In general, both parts with active-constructive and social processes and instructional parts are important for the successful design of learning environments (Reinmann-Rothmeier / Mandl 2006).
In a scientific context, serious games can be a good building block for a varied lesson structure: The digital medium allows learners to deal with interactive models (see also Dierkes 2015). Complex and dynamic relationships can be recorded in a completely different way than using the textbook or worksheet. Learning content is effectively and successfully transported in this interactive way if the focus on the central points is successful and the game or simulation relates directly to real facts by presenting them as professionally as possible (Petko 2008). The enormous motivational potential of serious games, which can develop in a school context, should also be particularly emphasized (Connolly et al. 2012). The learners are addressed by the fictional part of the software and ideally drawn under their spell. Above all, the visual worlds and the narrative context, i.e. the story, of a computer game arouse curiosity and have a motivating effect on the learners (Kerres / Bormann / Vervenne 2009).
In addition, serious games also enable social learning if there is the right framework for working together in group work. The learners benefit in such a learning environment by structuring knowledge in a common process (Fischer 2001). For this, however, a didactic framework for the game is essential, which enables the evaluation, discussion and reflection of the content dealt with in the game (Crookall 2010). Certainly, especially when planning lessons and when using learning software for the first time, time has to be invested and technology-related professional knowledge has to be used (Mahler / Arnold 2018). In view of the potential shown that such elements have for teaching, it can be assumed that this investment is worthwhile.
Blue Brain Club - a serious game for biology classes
Serious games can therefore enrich the design of lessons and thus offer a very good starting point for working on neurobiological content in particular. On the one hand, primary experiences in this subject area can only be realized with a great deal of effort (such as working with real objects and preparations or visiting extracurricular learning locations). On the other hand, the learning content to be presented in neurobiology is often highly complex and dynamic. Examples are the plasticity of synapses and the functional variability in nerve cell networks, which serve as the basis for learning and information storage (see also UB 392).
The Blue Brain Club software meets these ...