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how online learning keeps students engaged

How Online Learning Games Keep Students Engaged

Video games are often associated and linked with negative outcomes, behavioural patterns, and developments in children and youth. Despite the criticisms surrounding the topic of video games, many studies have been conducted to measure the effects it has on children and young adults, especially competitive and addictive video games.

On the flip side, reports show that video games improve visual attention and spatial-motor skills.

That is why developers, educators, and researchers continue to pursue educational possibilities about how they can integrate game-based learning into their curriculum and lesson plans to help students achieve their goals, control their social gaming environments, as well as develop games and apps specifically for the purpose of education. 

Books like Situated Language and Learning: A Critique of Traditional Schooling (Literacies) and Anti-Education Era were written by James Paul Gee who shared his thoughts on social linguistics and got the ball rolling. 

James Paul Gee is a retired researcher with extensive experience in psycholinguistics, discourse analysis, sociolinguistics, literacy, and bilingual education who had been a faculty affiliate of the Games, Learning, and Society Group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Definition of Gamification in Education

Gamification is the introduction of game elements and principles into non-game environments and situations. Gamification in education comes in the form of developing an approach that increases a learner’s motivation and engagement level by incorporating game design elements in educational environments. 

Learners are encouraged to take on activities, tasks, and work with set boundaries and rewards. It encourages them to solve problems and are rewarded for their progresses and successes. This is nothing new. It’s been done for thousands of years.

Effective educational games typically come with goals, progressions, a clear set of rules, storylines, high interactivity, rewards, upgrades, and many other kinds of bonuses. In the modern age, educational games also incorporate social elements that improve teamwork, group activities, and communication

In many ways, game-based educational tools and lesson plans can enhance a learner’s focus, motivation, and provide them with the freedom to explore, make mistakes, improve themselves, and find solutions to problems.

The Growing Interest in Gamification in Education

There’s been an uptick in interest in gamification amongst educators all around the world

In ‘modern’ times, Mary Poppins probably said it best: “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and SNAP! The job’s a game.”

With the advent of the internet, gamification seeped into the core of our everyday lives, sometimes in the form of social gamification. We’re talking about FourSquare, PokemonGo, Minecraft, Fortnite, Sea of Thieves, just to name a few. They encourage learners to get active either physically or socially to advance further into the game. 

There were findings that elements like leaderboards and badges brought about lower intrinsic motivation, satisfaction, and final exam scores. So, for some educators, increased participation in gaming seems to produce varying results based on their personalities, learning preferences and habits

One of the most important points to take away is the importance of ensuring that gamification solutions should underpin the fundamental mechanics of pedagogical principles, as opposed to short-term rewards and rote practice of learning content.

The Fundamentals of Learning through Games

The Challenge

Gamification works better with clear feedback, adaptable intensity, achievable results, and flexible learning pathways

For instance, learning through the BeED platform allows pathways that create opportunities for teachers to produce varying degrees of learning challenges which would allow students to maintain a zone of proximal development while remaining in the learning environment. 

When challenges are scaffolded to help students achieve their goals with guidance and encouragement from a skilled partner, fellow students, or educator, it keeps them in the proximal zone of development

The Control

Educational games should allow users proper control of the pathway of their own choice and be contextually relevant to their age, cultural background, and environment. 

The BeED web-based learning platform and app allows educators and learners to create a virtual environment that can be adapted and further developed to keep it relatable to the learning community’s real-world environment. 

The Creativity

One of the biggest reasons for gamification is injecting elements of challenges, fun, and achievements into an educational environment. The game should tap into the creative side of the learning process, allowing multiple ways to problem-solving, and creating new experiences every time. 

As learners solve the problems presented to them, as they move onwards in the gameplay, the experience changes, chartered by the users. 

BeED has long presented our clients with multiple formats of providing feedback that includes the recording of texts, videos, images, photographs, and voice recordings. 

The beauty of using the BeED online learning platform is that it is designed to work in almost all real-life situations. Even when the users have low or no connectivity, it is still possible to enjoy the endless variety of learning experiences provided to them. 

The Exploration

Part of the appeal of gamification in education is exploration, in not knowing what’s ahead, and being able to mould the experience and result

Exploration is key to engaging a learner via multiple routes with sufficient detail, enough to keep them wondering about new possibilities, opportunities to experience, and discover new experiences

The BeED learning platform helps and encourages teachers to create unique learning environments that are not restrictive by nature. It is not directional because we believe in promoting endless permutations of learning pathways

The Accountability

Online learning which has become the norm of 2020 presents educators and learners with new challenges – one of which is accountability, discipline, and responsibility. By including gamification into an educational platform like BeED, we also need to take into consideration various methods to prevent cheating, yet allow users equal opportunities to achieve their goals. 

When BeED was designed, we placed importance on building a platform that allows both students and teachers to stay connected as much as possible. Teachers can monitor all participants at a single glance with specific tools like plagiarism detection tools.

Students will then understand the concept of social and personal responsibility better. 

The Feedback

Badges, goals, leaderboards, rewards, and exclusive items are prevalent in the gaming community because it is the best motivational factor for users. By implementing the concept of gamification in an educational environment, feedback from teachers is extremely important.  

The feedback features on the BeED platform comes with supported and automated hints and feedback, analytics, and many other tools that will help students become more aware of their learning pathways

So, even for the students, they’ll know how they’ve performed at a simple glance.  

The Goals

As with any game, clear learning objectives should be set so that students can build a learning experience that is clearly progressive and achievable.  

Because each BeED online learning experience is closely linked to syllabus content, it allows students to understand their goals while tapping into their imagination creatively. Crafted adventures done up by an experienced educator can provide learners with a more exciting and engaging learning experience

The Learning

In pedagogy, learning should be supported by core pedagogical principles that correspond to specific learning content. 

With BeED, this is almost completely in the hands of the teacher. Unlike most edtech online learning platforms with gamification concepts, we have a system that allows the teachers to build the learning adventure while ensuring strict adherence to pedagogy. 

Teachers can embed opportunities for self-assessment throughout the course while maintaining the level of challenges and zones of proximal development. The learning process should also include student time for reflections

It encourages the students to digest the learning experience and assimilate it into the student’s learning journey.

The Resources

The appeal of game playing is the motivation for progress and engagement. Hence, the gaming process is peppered with awards, exchangeable rewards that can be traded with others, as well as recognition in the form of badges and special items. 

While it is an effective motivator, it should also be used in conjunction with other tools and elements to prevent negative effects of social gaming such as social ills, the lowering of personal resilience, and unabated zeal for short-term gains

The Social Play

The work of Lev Vygotsky was a big part of the research and theory of cognitive development, especially sociocultural theory, for decades. He expounded the sociocultural theory that human development is a socially-mediated process, especially cultural values, beliefs, and problem-solving skills. He believed that children acquire these skills through collaborative dialogues with knowledgeable people in society. 

In the context of gamification, the learning process is almost always through collaboration, competition, and communication

The line between the Benefits and Challenges of such a platform still lies within the grey areas for educators and we continue to be cautious about the possibilities of virtual dangers of cyberbullying. 

The Storytelling

Although storytelling is not an integral part of education per se, in gamification, it is. By merging gamification and education, storytelling becomes a natural draw because it provides diverse perspectives, is relatable, and stimulates the thought process

The BeED learning platform allows educators to turn lessons in the virtual world and convert lessons into a more fun, engaging ‘choose your own adventure’.  

The BeED Experience for Enhanced Learning

If you’ve been looking for a reliable, effective, flexible, and affordable learning management system for your organisation, group, school, or learning institution, sign up for our BeED account for a test-drive today. 

Click on this link and sign up now!

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