I recently discovered a new term as it relates to education and lesson planning; “Gamification”. According to Educause gaming, the result of this is “a diverse matrix of approaches that use gaming principles, fully developed games, or other aspects of “gameful learning” to increase engagement, enhance learning and explore new models of education.” According to the article Archive wizards, “games are primarily valuable due to the emotional responses they evoke and the experiences they engender in their players.” If the students can become emotionally attached to the situations and the players they are controling, they will be more likely to me intrinsically motivated to progress in the game. It’s important to use a game that contains “meaningful challenges, battles, and conquests”. Games with meaningful epic journeys that address “real human needs and emotions” may not be super easy to find for your classroom but I’ll be exploring different educational games in the next few days and I’ll have some feedback on that soon.
I feel the image below does a nice job of putting this new phenomenon into words:
One of the major keys to using gamification in the classroom is the idea of engaging and inspiring your students to develop competencies and skills useful to your subject matter without them realizing that they are learning such. They would be figuring out how to succeed or break new grounds in the game at hand while simultaneously learning essential elements to your TL (target language) or to whatever subject it is you are teaching. Students would be motivated to race against their peers or obtain higher scores than their friends. One of my favorite quotes from the Educause gaming article is ” Game mechanics reinforce the fact that failure is neither a setback nor an outcome but rather an indication that more work is needed to master the skill or knowledge at hand.” I love this statement because one of the problems LOTE educators face is students giving up because they feel they “can’t” pronounce the TL words nor can they properly form sentences. One of their biggest fears is making mistakes or “sounding stupid” so as a result they choose to not participate or rarely speak in class. This is absolutely one of my number one goals as a French teacher; to provide an environment where they do not fear error but are comfortable speaking and making mistakes and accepting correction. I will be the first to admit that even I may not know every word in French and I could easily make a pronunciation or spelling mistake too. The only way to learn and to improve is to try and make mistakes.
Some of the 10 Gaming genres to adopt in class discussed on this site include “Escape the room”, puzzle games, arcade, strategy, adventure, alternative reality, multiplayer…etc…I was particularly interested by the Escape the Room genre which I’ll be discussing in more detail in my next post. In a few words, this game includes you gathering objects in order to escape the room at hand, a bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, etc… The arcade game is very repetitive and so it is good for drilling in vocabulary for directions and colors. As far as I can tell, most of the medieval, fantasy, quest or strategy games would be better off for upper level language learners. Well, as you can see there are plenty of different genres of games out there that can be used in the classroom leaving you plenty of options depending on the topic you are covering.
It is true that some students may not be as successful as others with gamification in the classroom. Students who learn better by written, repetitive “normal” schoolwork may not thrive as much. That being said, what really is “normal” schoolwork now a days? With technology sweeping across our society like an electric tidalwave, the “norm” of teaching methods that we grew up with may soon cease to exist. With gaming in the classroom, some teachers may find it difficult to meet the required learning objectives at hand. The environment of gaming could lead to a loss in order and construct in the classroom, giving students too much freedom. It would be important to maintain an efficient learning environment while gaming. All in all, a change in pace and varying repertoire of teaching methods is something I believe to be important for an effective teacher to keep her students on their toes and engaged. Perhaps students who normally aren’t very enthusiastic about your subject, but are however competitive in their sports outside of school, would be among those to excel greatly through the use of gamification. It only takes a few weeks of testing it out to see how effective it can be with your students.