As students become more disengaged with traditional methods of learning and more and more students drop out of school, it is important for educators to examine the mechanics of motivation. New technologies surrounding gamification and augmented reality are giving schools new and innovative ways to engage and motivate, and offer different strategies to pique a student’s natural desire to learn. ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN will look at the possibilities, challenges and the future of gamification and augmented reality in education.
By Claire Adamson
The use of games in education has been a widely accepted method of learning for many years, but as technology evolves, so does the level of engagement students have with the games they are playing in class. It can be argued that school and the system of grading students is like a game anyway – students are given the opportunity to make achievements and go up levels until they eventually ‘master’ school, or graduate.
Games provide students with a more incremental sense of achievement, offering badges, trophies, points and the chance to ‘unlock’ achievements, rather than assessments and grades. As a student makes small gains and earns points or badges, the sense of motivation and achievement is constant and small, rather than being a long haul with a big test at the end. A really important factor in this kind of achievement system is the allowance of students to experience trial and error – by allowing students to make mistakes and fail in a low-stakes environment, they can learn by doing and experimenting. The word ‘failure’ is a terrifying one for students, but it is a necessary part of the learning process.
There are other benefits of gamification in education. By giving students a new way to engage with the course material, there is a possibility to alter their own perceptions of themselves when it comes to learning and schoolwork. A student who has a hard time fitting into a classroom environment can try a different persona in a game setting and has the freedom to experiment within that. If explored correctly, this can be a boost to a student’s self-confidence and a real motivating factor.
Of course, the gamification of education brings with it challenges and pitfalls. Children are smart, and will not respond well to games where the learning is sneaked into the story. There is also the issue that when a student is made to play a game, some of the freedom and fun of the game evaporates – it becomes more and more like schoolwork. Games that are created specifically for education need to look closely at these problems and find creative solutions to properly complement coursework.
Gamification and its different educational applications will be explored thoroughly at this year’s ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN. The panel discussion Enhanced Skill Development with Games and Augmented Reality, which will be led by Dr. Iain McLaren of the National University of Ireland, will address some of the main trends in the gamification of education. Manuel Oliveira will discuss possibilities for serious games in the development of learning in corporate environments. Carsten Busch will discuss his research on the practical learning applications of the Journey of the Hero and the ways that digital media can enhance this, and Hariklia Tsalapatas will talk about developing analytical thinking skills through the use of serious games that apply programming concepts.
Augmented reality, or the addition of a layer of digital media to enhance the real world around us, offers a similar set of benefits and drawbacks to gamification in education. The technology associated with augmented reality has a real wow factor and the novelty is immediately engaging for students. But there are deeper, more ongoing benefits with augmented reality, and tools are being created to provide engaging learning strategies for students.
Educators are already using geotagging and airtagging to let students find extra digital information in real locations using smartphones, a technique that can be used on field trips or in scavenger hunts and gives the student a real sense of discovery. Augmented reality can also be used to visualise diagrams or concepts – for example, students could see a real life model of the human respiratory system mirroring their own when they look at certain screens.
The benefits of augmented reality are not just centered around novelty –the technology can increase the potential for conversational learning. Children have been observed to learn better in groups and augmented reality educational tools help to provide a more 3D focal point for students to gather around.
The applications of augmented reality will also be explored in detail at the conference. The pre-conference workshop Augmented Virtuality supports sharing of Corporate Experience will allow participants to explore new methods of knowledge transfer and the different spheres in which these techniques can be used, while the session Digital Tools and Aids for Teaching Maths and Science: Theory and Practice will focus on applications surrounding these two subjects.
The pros and cons of gamification and augmented reality are numerous and complex, and this year’s ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN will offer many opportunities to discuss specific ways in which these technologies can help students connect with their coursework and enhance the learning experience.
The pre-conference workshop Augmented Virtuality supports sharing of Corporate Experience will take place on Wednesday November 28th from 10:00 to 13:00. Enhanced Skill Development with Games and Augmented Reality will take place from 11:45 – 13:15 on Friday November 30th, while Digital Tools and Aids for Teaching Maths and Sciences: Theory and Practice will also be held on Friday November 30th, from 16:30 – 18:00. For additional information, please click here.