Digi-Teach Creates Fun Learning in Digital Era
Episode: Gamification in Education
As another big wave of COVID-19 hit Thailand again, schools in high-risk areas need to adapt a face-to-face learning approach into an online course instead. Teachers and students have to find a way to adapt themselves to remote learning. Some schools already successfully integrated digital technology into learning approaches since these schools have been preparing for the digital transformation in the past 5-10 years. However, some schools don’t have enough capacity to arrange online learning. These schools are still struggling to find a way to continue providing classes while in-person classrooms are not possible for now. So, what can teachers do in response to inevitable school closures to create an effective learning approach for students, especially for elementary school students? It’s a challenging task since students of this age range need enough motivation to stay engaged in online learning.
Teacher ‘Luk Moo’ from Plearnpattana school described learning approaches management of the school during the time of COVID-19. She explained that the school had designed an integrated learning approach that allows students to discover findings from a mission assigned in each subject’s method, for example, a mission of creating their own experiment at home. The school provided students “Learning Box” which parents could pick up the materials at school for their children to do the experiment. Sometimes, the mission is designed for students to be able to conduct it themselves with household items or natural objects. With the self-guided mission and the tools at hand, students get to write down the details of their experiments and present their experiments’ results by using their writing skills, presentation skills or practical skills. Sometimes, it’s difficult for teachers to assist and approach all children during online classes.
For this reason, a change of learning approach is needed for online class each time, and students’ participants in-class activities should be most highlighted by setting conditions for learning and motivating students every time. For high school students, teachers also need new techniques and approaches to adopt in online classes to engage students. Teacher ‘Bow’ from Mahavajiravudh School said that teaching takes a lot of energy because teachers have to deliver quite a large amount of learning content
s within a limited time frame, and class-based learning environments shifts to online learning platforms. As a consequence, media learning materials with the help of technology are brought into practice in online classes such as using online platforms for tests or using game platforms for quizzes. Teacher Bow also added that engaging and assisting students in virtual classes is a difficult task which is the same challenge that teachers in elementary student online classes face.
Engage students with fun through gamification
The common challenge that teachers in elementary and high school classes deal with is engaging students. Teachers need to find a way to capture students’ attention and keep them engaged with learning content. The key to motivating students is ‘fun’ and interesting processes that can distinctively create engaging online classes.
See this from a student’s perspective. If there were options between reading and playing games, what would many students choose? The answer is quite clear. So, what would it be if we bring the fun of games into learning approaches for students? Many people might already have heard of ‘gamification’ or adopting game mechanics in various field of studies. Adopting gamification in a classroom context can be done by arousing students’ motivation so they change their learning behaviors. Elements of gamification can be integrated into learning approaches such as goals setting, fun elements, rewards, competitions, feedback, levels, etc. These elements will create challenges for students to solve problems and see their own self-development. Besides, rewards will also help motivate students to engage more in classes. Teachers can adopt gamification in online learning in various ways depending on their learning objectives.
Good learning approach must be flexible
In games, players can always create their own characters and choose to start a new game when they haven’t reached the goal they want. Learning approach as well should adopt this concept where teachers let students create classroom atmosphere that they want, share their favorite activities and share their opinions. For example, in a classroom, teachers may simulate a shopping center situation when the lesson is about communication. The teachers can also let students change a video background in the simulation situation as well as allow students to choose their own roles in the simulation. Other methods that focus on flexible and supportive learning approaches are possible as well. In doing so, classrooms are actually designed for students.
Creating space for opinion expressions and giving feedback
Online classes should be safe space for students where students are encouraged to learn through trial and error, so they can reflect on their experiment results and create their own knowledge. To gain knowledge this way is like playing a game where a player gains more insights each time they play the game. As a result, they can score higher or reach their goals faster. This method can be practiced as a one-on-one interaction between a teacher and a student or in a group discussion activity. Everyone will get a chance to share ideas, for example, in a form of writing a short note of reflective feedback for group members so they reflect on their experiences together.
A mission to overcome challenges
Traditional homework might not make a class interesting, so teachers should try to adjust a task assignment for students which should be based on fun, motivation and design as a mission for students to achieve it. A mission can be, for example, giving students a math problem presented as a mysterious safe code instead of a typical math problem that is presented in an ordinary way. The new way of a math problem presentation can spark an interest of students more.
Besides, teachers can also create a more fun class by creating a mission to collect scores with a competitive game to attract students’ attention in a higher grade. To illustrate, teachers can level up difficulty of quizzes for students to collect scores to get an accomplishment flag. Teachers should create a mission that allows all students to do a mission and reach their goals depending on their competency, determination and how much time they spend on mission.
Creating learning options and evaluation
Flexible and various forms of learning approaches and evaluations are like a game with helping items to reach different goals. Just like players, to reach goals, students should have more than one option and can get some help from additional tools in their learning process. This is in line with the situation of online classes where some students still lack the readiness for learning environment, equipment as well as familiarity with online classes. Teachers can design learning approaches and evaluations that meet students’ aptitude. For example, instead of evaluating students with tests, teachers can let students present their skills through videos, inventions, or other approaches that allow students to learn in everyday life. With new ways of evaluations, teachers may need to create fair criteria for every student.
Adopting educational technology
It’s undeniable that students nowadays become more familiar with technologies so today’s companies produce new media or platforms for education and students’ lifestyle. Even though the adaptation of gamification in learning approach may not be completely tied to technology, technology tools adaptation in online classes such as the use of Kahoot, Crossword lab and Mentimeter can also be useful and create better learning atmosphere. Because these tools can attract students to participate in online classes’ activities more whether they like to interact or not.
Gamification is the adaptation of game characteristics that influence students’ learning in online classes. Teachers can adopt the game elements into online classes to make the classes more fun and interesting. However, in using game traits in classes, teachers need to consider various aspects including students’ readiness and diverse conditions of students which are challenges for teachers nowadays to tackle with as well as the advancement of technology and how to deal with the changes. Learning approaches thus always need suitable preparation for changes, adjustment to changes and need support for students’ effective learning, so no students are left behind.