Posted on November 9, 2020
Definition of Ludo Pedagogy
Ludo Pedagogy is a pedagogical method that uses games or serious games. The simple fact of using games or serious games into a pedagogy, inscribes us in edutainment. Let us specify, however, that there are several ways of using games in a pedagogical framework. Thus for Yvan Hochet, we can teach "with", "by", "about" and "around" the game (Hochet, 2013). In a modern edutainment approach, the challenge is to teach "with a game" and less "by a game". The nuance being that in the case of "teaching by a game", we are in the idea of using a game as a pretext: "if you do your exercise well, you will be able to play a game". Whereas when we try to teach "with a game", we use the game as a true mediation: we use the game to illustrate what is being said, to make people live a concrete experience, to contextualize a concept... The game is not an accessory in this edutainment approach, it is central. It is therefore the method "with a game" that we are considering for the rest of our paper.
Why would you want to use games in training?
There are many reasons. In a non-exhaustive manner, we can cite the following advantages:
- Motivation: play is a motivational lever. The main idea is to achieve utility objectives. A comparison of motivations related to play and training shows strong theoretical correspondences . In practical terms, the DANT project  carried out in Italy during 4 years with 10,000 pupils and 1,000 primary and secondary teachers, revealed that pupils who had used digital games during their school year had obtained better results in the final tests to assess their knowledge: around 2 points more on average for mathematics and 3.5 points more in Italian matter. Almost a third of the teachers who participated in this study reported a significant increase in the motivation of these students. In addition, almost 30% of the students who used these digital games in the classroom also used them at home, the titles being freely accessible on the Internet.
- Learning by trial and error: most games and serious games are based on a learning by trial and error principle: the learner mentally builds a "hypothesis" and tests it while playing. The interest of the approach lies in the possibility of letting the learner make mistakes to realize the consequences which result from it and also to allow him to adapt the learning strategy according to different situations. The learner must thus refine his(her) hypothesis until (s)he finds the solution which makes it possible to "win".
- Educational differentiation: the use of play can help the trainer to take into account the differences in learning pace between learners of the same group. Each one can progress in the game at it own pace: a trainer who will need to repeat a sequence fifteen times before understanding the solution will be able to do so without fear of being judged negatively by his peers; while a learner who succeeds after two tries will no longer be frustrated at having to wait for his colleagues: time can be devoted to exploring the game in depth or helping those who encounter difficulties.
- Stimulating educational interactions between learners: serious games are used to stimulate educational interactions between learners, like some multiplayer games. Learners can also be invited to play on the same machine side by side to stimulate interactions: give each other advice, point out information that seems important, find strategies together to win, etc.
- Offer concrete representations: It is difficult for some learners to assimilate some kind of concepts because they are too abstract (mathematical formulas, theoretical approaches, etc.). Problems proposing to calculate the speed of filling baths or the time at which trains cross seem very far from our daily life. In addition, it is not easy to represent mentally the water flows according to stated flow rates or the speed of trains over an entire route. Some games and serious games offer the advantage of giving concrete and animated representations of such abstract notions.
Of course, we can also point out limits to the use of play as an educational method:
- Poor quality games: some games or serious games can be of very variable quality depending on the skills and intentions of their developers. However, it is difficult to judge the educational potential of a game or a serious game in an absolute way: some trainers will see in bad titles educational interests to establish their remarks or propose a study of cases.
- The importance of debriefing: according to experiments carried out by Jacob Habgood , the same game is much more effective for acquiring knowledge if the trainer proposes a collective "debriefing" with its learners after the play session.
- Des contraintes matérielles et logistiques: it is important to measure upstream the logistical implication that the use of digital games in training can represent beyond the work of a trainer: availability of computers or peripherals that could run correctly digital games. The quality of the Internet connection is also a parameter to take into account.
- A negative representation of video games: when they come in a digital form, serious games undoubtedly suffer from the negative image that taints the video game. The media and parents often denounce the violence of certain types of games such as First Person Shooter (FPS) games in particular. This is a complex subject. Print media, film, radio, television, rock’n’roll, comics, and the Internet have also been the target of sustained criticism before being appropriated by society. For some researchers, the hostile reactions towards the video game are the sign that it is going to settle in a durable way in our society. But in this context, making use of digital games in training can slow down some trainers.
- Ideological obstacles: trainers could evoke many obstacles to the use of games or serious games:
o training programs too busy to allow the testing of new pedagogical approaches;
o fear of the opinion of colleagues, management, or even the learners themselves;
o fear of having to change their role: moving from a traditional pedagogical approach to a more active form;
o lack of equipment or resources;
o low remuneration with regarding the work to provide;
o lack of interest to play or the supposed incompatibility of using games with their training;
o ignorance of the computer tool or a lack of information about serious games;
o fear of introducing values that are not compatible with those of the training center (playing at work, learning associated with entertainment, effortless learning ...);
o fear of losing control of training or technology or of showing a lack of videoludic or technological knowledge face to learners;
o strong constraints from the training center or the institution: lack of understanding, resources and means, adapted training, support;
o risks encountering resistance among the learners themselves or causing only their boredom ...
The advantages and limits associated with ludo pedagogy are therefore multiple. The development of educational methods therefore requires various skills to deal with these different parameters.
If we can manage with all of these elements…
How can we build our educational sequence?
To do this, it is appropriate to structure the ludo pedagogical sequence in three phases, as Nicole Tremblay teaches us with her "three pedagogical phases" (Tremblay, 2007, pp.102-104). In concrete terms, as Julian Alvarez explains (Alvarez, 2019, p. 225):
A review of these three phases shows that the trainer must take on different roles. He/she will thus be in turn facilitator, coach, mediator, teacher, possibly pedagogue and sometimes even master of the game. At the same time, it should always be borne in mind that the learners will interpret the proposed gaming activity and the associated messages according to their own cultural references, their history, the issues associated with the training, being alone or in a group, their mood at the time, etc. For this reason, the debriefing that follows the play is strategic. It will allow the trainer to try to refocus the learners' interpretations on the pedagogical objectives targeted. In order to do this, the trainer must question the various learners. This can take the form of the following four key questions:
These four questions are not exhaustive, but are an example of a debriefing that can be proposed for a serious play activity. Their objective is to first evacuate the excitement or anxiety linked to the gaming activity and then to distance oneself from the learning addressed, reinforced or acquired as well as the mobilized know-how. Once this distance has been established, it is clear that play is no longer appropriate. We enter into a didactic exchange or even a debate that allows the trainer to orient his learners towards his pedagogical objectives. It is at this stage that it is appropriate for the trainer to reduce as much as possible the interpretations which would be too far from the targeted pedagogical messages. Once this stage has been completed, it is interesting to check whether a transposition between the proposed game activity and concrete applications in the everyday world is conceivable. Finally, as ludo pedagogy is an iterative approach, it is important for the trainer to gather information from the learners that could improve the proposed activity for the next time. Ludo Pedagogy is thus a method that aims to transform the learners, but at the same time, the trainer and the game system can be transformed as well.
Written by Julian Alvarez
Phd / HDR in Communication & Information Sciences - Specialized in Ludopedagogy & Gamification
ALVAREZ, J. (2019), Design des dispositifs et expériences de jeu sérieux, HDR, Université Polytechnique des Hauts-de-France, pp.184-188, https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/tel-02415027v1
HABGOOD, J. (2007), The effective integration of digital games and learning content, PhD Thesis, England : University of Nottingham
HOCHET, Y. (2013). « Evaluer le Serious Gaming : L’expérience autour de Sim City », evirtuoses 2013, VALENCIENNES, (FRANCE).
TREMBLAY, N. (2007). « Formation initiale des enseignants, médiation pédagogique et approche philosophique », in TREMBLAY, N. (dir.), Des pratiques philosophiques en communauté de Recherche en France et au Québec, Presse de l’Université de Laval (PUL), LAVAL, (CANADA), pp. 95-116.
WASTIAU, P., KEARNEY, C. & VAN DER BREGHE, W. (2009), How digital games are used in schools? / Quels usages pour les jeux électroniques en classe ?, European Schoolnet,