Learning through gaming helps increase engagement

Learning through gaming helps increase engagement

Even though a lot of today's video games do include highly violent content, there are more appropriate, educational games out there.

By Sarwat Nasir

Published: Sun 14 Apr 2019, 10:04 PM

Last updated: Mon 15 Apr 2019, 12:11 AM

Gaming has been making headlines worldwide for all the wrong reasons lately - addictions, violent scenes, talking to strangers online and a 'bad influence on youth' overall. 
In fact, Khaleej Times recently reported that a young girl was admitted to rehab because of her addiction to playing Fortnite. 
Even though a lot of today's video games do include highly violent content, there are more appropriate, educational games out there that are being used in classrooms. 
Neal Oates, assistant head at Dubai British School, said gamification is a method used in schools to improve engagement among students by using various applications and challenges in the classroom. 
"Some classrooms take gamification to an extreme with programmes like ClassCraft, which involves a set of class rules and student fantasy character profiles. Students then compete in teams to solve various quests and challenges. However, gamification - in many classrooms - is more often seen in various applications such as Quiziz and Kahoot, where students compete on engaging multiple-choice quizzes, which are highly effective for knowledge recall," Oates said. 
"There is a wide range of different applications that allow for game-based learning. One of those we use is Manga High, which allows students to challenge themselves to improve their maths knowledge through various games. Teachers are spoilt for choice when it comes to different digital platforms, which can gamify the classroom, making it impossible to name them all. It's a growing market, with 'Ed tech' firms recognising the cognitive benefits and popularity of game-based learning." 
He said the school also gamifies their curriculum in areas with in-class competition, like SteamathalonX, where students build robots as part of their STEAM competitions. (STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math.) 
Students work as part of a team towards a common goal, allowing them to build valuable teamwork and communication skills. The competitive elements of the curriculum also enables them to increase engagement and mimic real working life situations for students. 
"Overall, game-based learning is nothing new to education, as teachers have been playing games in class to help students learn since forever. However, with new technology and AI beginning to make an impact, we will only see game-based learning increase within the classrooms of the future," Oates added.
A teacher at GEMS Metropole School in Dubai, Jacob de Leeuw, has previously told Khaleej Times that he has implemented some popular gaming tools in his class.
He uses a mathematics game, called Prodigy Maths Game, for his Year 6 classes. Students get to build avatars and battle against other characters or classmates by completing mathematical problems.
He also uses the data generated from the game to focus on his students' strengths and get to know areas for improvement.
"As a teacher, I am able to set certain tasks for my class, based on what we are working on. Upon students completing the tasks, I am then able to generate a significant amount of data that feeds formatively into my teaching and learning. Informative, free, addictive and very engaging.
"How engaging? A total of 1,500 questions were answered in the first week of implementation," Leeuw said.
The game also helps "reluctant learners" participate because of the progress the avatar makes in the game, according to Leeuw. He added that the students also learn skills, such as problem-solving, mastery of concepts and fluency of basic skills, whenever they participate.

Kids learn 'boring' lessons via apps: Pupils
It's not just gamification that's helping pupils in class, app innovation is also enabling their creative juices to flow. 
Smartphone applications are something that people use daily - whether it's to check the weather, shop, chat with friends, or do bank transactions. 
The youth, especially university students, are quite advanced in developing apps. Last month, Khaleej Times reported the story of a group of students that built a ride-sharing application. 
Hritika Tripathi, a student at Delhi Private School in Sharjah, said: "In this tech-savvy era, the trendy and cool apps rule over the boring lessons and exams. Students like us, without any doubt, love the ruling apps. However, when we combine education with an app, the outcome will be a powerful source of effective learning. 
"Students are more driven towards using a mobile phone for every purpose and, in this situation, the educational apps can be the perfect way to convince students to study. Educational apps ensure interactive and effective learning by transforming the boring lessons and helping the pupils visualise everything." 
A student at GEMS Our Own English High School in Dubai, Dhanvi Sayani, said app innovation and gamification is the face of modern education. 
She insisted that these advanced learning areas are shaping the education industry around the world. 
"App innovation and gamification can become important tools that can shape the educational system we follow. Gamification of studies can make education interactive, easy to learn, and fun. 
"App innovation in education will not only bring about change in the educational system but also give students a glimpse of the future, where everything will be done with the help of technology," she said. 
"It can also help students learn new things at their own pace and level of understanding. They can even repeat lessons, if necessary. Gamification of studies does not only make learning fun but can also turn out to be a practical way of learning."

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