Tagged: Gamification

Learning Through the Game?

Everyone Loves To Play

I have to admit that one of the best ways to spend some good time with friends is to spend it with a board game. People like playing games. Playing games makes us feel happy and maybe sometimes a bit upset when we lose a game. However, that’s life and all of us get this experience in our real lives as well. Games lead us through entire life. We begin playing in our early childhood as it is one of the most engaging and effective ways to learn new things.

I love learning through games and even my personal experience shows that it’s really effective. Russian is my second native language, but I have never learned how to fluently read in it. I do recognize Cyrillic characters, but my reading level is similar to the level of a second-grader. Once, I have participated in a small and cozy party. A colleague of mine brought a card game – “Alias“. Since she is a Russian language teacher, it was all in Russian. I definitely was going to challenge myself. The key factors like competition and engagement incredibly accelerated my low reading skills. It is incredible, how learning through the game might be a really powerful and engaging tool for learners. Moreover, one of the biggest advantages of playing games, is that they help us escape from our routine and get some exciting experiences.

Photo by Andrey Metelev on Unsplash

Our motivation to win points in the game generates signals in the brain’s reward system that are similar to those produced by our attraction to many other pleasures such as food. (Koepp 1998) Resource

Here are some interesting insights on people playing digital games in the US, shared by Eugen Eşanu. “Gamification: Understanding The Basics”:

69% of all heads of household play computer and video games;
97% of youth play computer and video games;
40% of all gamers are women;
One out of four gamers is over the age of fifty;
The average game player is thirty-five years old and has been playing for twelve years;
Most gamers expect to continue playing games for the rest of their lives;

This kind of statistics might seem shocking at some point. On the other hand, this shows how much people are engaged with digital games. What if those games would be really beneficial for the players, e.g. teach some useful real-life skills, new language, geography and so much more. Jane Mcgoligan (a digital game designer, who makes games for 10 years) has some good ideas on how gaming can make a better world.

Gamification in the classroom

“Games in the classroom help teachers to connect with their students” Kip Glazer “Game Creation as a Learning activity for students.”

has emphasized ways of gamification making students feeling happy. He also suggests celebrating students learning by using some elements from the games as rewards.

He thinks that learning isn’t always rewarding, and students do learn very often because they have to. The author suggests making learning a game or competition and celebrating students’ efforts by rewarding them with virtual badges. Moreover, by receiving a virtual badge students get a visual cue of their achievements, which helps them grow and make connections with the gained knowledge. It acts as a “memory bookmark”.You're the best The opportunity for improvement is one more benefit of digital games, that can be used in the educational process. When playing a game, you have a big chance to lose and start over. This means that gaming is a constant process of playing, losing, learning a mistake, and playing again, and therefore, improving skills this way. However, by learning and completing a task or taking a test, students usually don’t get to look back at the mistakes and try again. In most cases, students are preparing for the next one. Using gamification in education will not only engage students to learn but will encourage them to learn better.

 

“Gamification is not simply playing games in class….gamification goes beyond”  “3 Ways Gamification Will Make Your Students Happy”

Gamification vs Game-based Learning

I am currently working on the research for my final COETAIL project about Game-based learning and Gamification concepts. I try to dig deeper to understand how these concepts perform in education. Therefore, my biggest question is – “What is the difference between Game-based learning and Gamification?”

This infographic that I found at elearninginfogrphics.com compares Game-based learning and Gamification concepts. These two concepts are similar and different at the same time.

Gamification vs Game-Based Learning visual

My final project is more likely to be a hybrid model of both concepts. I am going to include a set of tasks, rewards for the completed tasks, levels, characters, settings representing the game environment.

…most school-age children, when playing a video game of their choice, can pay attention for hours,  will choose harder over easier tasks, and learn new cognitive game skill at a ferocious pace. Scott R. Garrigan.

Why are Games so Attractive?

According to the Malone and Lepper research, the intrinsically motivating elements making students want to return and play a game, again and again, are – challenge, curiosity, control, and fantasy.

Challenge – player accepts the challenge as it would be an individual goal that motivates him to meet the challenge.

Curiosity and Surprise – every player is curious about surprises in the game that can come together with the next game level 0r step.

Control – games differ by providing a variety of controls to the players – choosing a level, avatar, tools, or even ending the game.

Fantasy – Giants, Pirates, Characters from the fairy tales, Animated characters, etc., all these game characters as well as environments are making games even more attractive.

(Gamify Literacy)

Anyone will agree – children are the best experts of digital games. I was curious about the elements that make the digital game attractive and fun, so I have asked my students about that. Here is the list of the elements:
missions – student prefer challenges;
customizing option – students like to customize their characters,  gadgets, transportation, environment, etc.
peer comments and interactions or social interactions;
rewards – students like to be rewarded with coins, points, badges, etc.
environment – similar to Minecraft or Roblox,  Planet of cubes for younger students (Gr. 2 – Gr. 3). Fantasy, fiction, or sci-fi for older students (Gr. 4- Gr. 5)
– “Leader Boards” – students like tracking their progress as well as compare it with other students they know in person.
Similar elements are emphasized in the research about Learning Media and Technology by Paul Howard-Jones and other authors.

A New Version of the Monopoly?

Take a look at the example below which I found on Keri Lee Beasley’s website. The visual caught my eye because it looks like a famous board game – Monopoly. This board game was created for “Media Mentor Month” – a global education initiative designed to help parents develop a positive relationship with their children around digital technologies. Using this game-based format is a great and attractive way for parents to play/discuss media importance and impact to students’ learning by the representation of a board game that contains colors and icons, that attract to explore. If I was a student, I would like to play it right away.

Source of the visual

“Gamification is “taking game elements and applying them to a non-gaming context.” Brett Terrill

Gamification is Everywhere?

Before digging deeper into the concept of Gamification, I was sure it is related to education only. However, some facts surprised me after reading this article about gamification concepts and the ways they are used in business (E-learning Industry). For example, when shopping in a grocery store I receive some stickers, that provide me a discount for buying certain items. Moreover, I collect the stickers in my booklet for stickers, provided by the same grocery store. Sound familiar? I’ve seen this in my Kindergarten class but never thought about the connection 🙂

In order to find out more about gamification, I’ve signed up for a Coursera course ran by Kevin Werbach, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He has defined gamification as the process of our learning from games. Elements like badges, point systems are being used to reward a player/learner or even consumer for his achievements/shopping. For example, your SmartWatch is a great model of how gamification is being used in business. You thrive to walk and move more in order to achieve your goals and get awarded with a trophy. Eventually, you earn an appropriate badge and change a role in a game 🙂 Just like kids in a digital game. And of course, you buy a SmartWatch to play that game and feel happy about that.

 

Photo of my personal weekend gamification activity

“Circumstances where something involves some combination of game elements and game design that is for a purpose other than playing the game, that’s gamification.”

What is your favorite game?

 

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The Final Project of COETAIL Course #1: My Tech-Rich Unit about Internet Safety

I chose a Digital Citizenship unit as my final project for COETAIL Course #1. I begin every school year by teaching this unit. I find it really important. Students, as well as adults, keep forgetting about some important rules regarding sharing personal data via social media, appropriate behavior online or digital etiquette. However, children in real life often are told not to open the door to strangers, when they are left at home alone. What about the digital world? Do they really know well enough how to keep the private family or personal information secure, when to share it and with whom? Kids usually have access to way more information than their parents realize. But do they always know when is it OK to open that information door?

Here is my tech-rich Internet Safety unit plan that will allow students to gain knowledge and skills to survive in the ocean of the digital world. Below you will find more details about teaching methods and digital tools that enrich this unit.

Gamification

The fact, that I am teaching this unit every year doesn’t make it easier to create. I’m adapting the teaching plan every year since it is getting harder to motivate students by just giving new tools and relevant information. However, in my opinion, the rules of internet safety must be reminded about and repeated every year. While designing this unit plan, I was thinking about my Grade 5 students, since they are more likely to already be using social media in their personal environment. This time I’ve decided to utilize a new tool to make sure I catch their attention and make the information memorable – Gamification. Everything is so much easier to learn through the game. Everyone likes to play. This is one of the best motivations for a learner of any age.

In order not to invent the wheel again, I’ve chosen a BreakOut Edu platform (luckily, this school year our school has purchased several kits and unlimited access to this educational resource). BreakOut Edu is a challenge of an escape room in your classroom. Students get topic-related information through the riddles. By solving the riddles, students get answers in a form of lock combinations that allow unlocking the boxes and getting the key.

Photo by ABEL MARQUEZ on Unsplash

In order to make a research process more exciting and effective for my students, I’ve chosen a game called THINK BEFORE YOU POST, which offers students a possibility to decide whether provided information can be posted online or not, as well as learn more about potentially harmful online activities. As a result, it turns out to be kind of a guided research process through the game.

In order to attract the attention of the students, the main task of the game is related to a real-world situation:
Your parents have changed the wifi password and disabled wifi on all of your cellular devices!  The only way to get online access is to prove to them that you know how to be safe on the Internet!
This kind of challenge is motivating already. At the end of this activity students will learn about:
– Negative consequences of online activities;
– How to sort out Helpful, Unkind and Illegal Posts;
– Create an appropriate Fake Facebook post;
– Learn about location settings and when it is safe to share your location on your device.
Through this BreakOut Edu activity students will go through the following stages of learning from Bloom’s taxonomy – remembering, understanding and applying.

Podcast

Another essential part of my Internet safety unit is the creation of a podcast. Students will analyze and evaluate data, they’ve gained from the Internet safety game. They will have to work in groups and fill out the Podcast outline template in order to structurize the information on internet safety topics. During this process, they will also be encouraged to do additional research online. Students, working in groups, will create and record a podcast about one of the topics:
– Negative consequences of online activities;
– How to sort out Helpful, Unkind and Illegal Posts;
– How to create an appropriate Fake Facebook post;
– Location settings on your device and when it is safe to share your location?
Students will use Anchor – an online podcast generator.
The podcats will be shared through Google Form with classmates, who will be able to share their reflections on their peers’ podcasts and provide feedback.
After sharing it with classmates and receiving feedback, student-created Podcats can be tuned a little bit more and prepared for sharing with the school community on a bulletin board (by providing QR codes of each podcast). Everyone will be able to listen to it and remind themselves about the basics of internet safety.

How does this relate to the learning in Course 1? 

Knowledge gained through COETAIL course #1 helped me a lot while designing this unit plan. The fact that I had to push myself out of the comfort zone and place myself into the learners’ chair made me see the whole educational process that I was used to from an absolutely different angle. I realized, on one hand, how many exciting easily-accessible online learning tools are available on the unlimited pages of the internet. On the other hand, this experience reminded me of something that many of us, teachers, forget due to day-to-day routine – in order to be effective and stay in students’ heads, every lesson must be interesting, engaging and inspiring. Connecting tasks to real-life situations, inspiring collaboration, making it so exciting and unusual that students would geek out about it after the classes and applying the best modern learning theories – I’ve tried to have all of these ideas in mind while creating this lesson plan so that my students would benefit from it as much as I benefited from COETAIL course #1.

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