Did you know that play is considered a crucial component of cognitive development from birth through adulthood? Think about your favorite games: isn’t it true that you never get tired playing them? Being it hide and seek, puzzles, construction games, board games, there are invisible threads linking our memories, experiences and feelings in connection to playing games and they are all linked to the intrinsic motivation and engagement they trigger in our mind!
A reflection on how playing shapes our learning process and our socio-emotional development was exactly the starting point of the first edition of the course on Gamification and Game-based Learning that took place in Bologna from 1st till 7th of August. Seven participants joined the course: Maria Paula from Universidade de Aveiro in Portugal, Letitia and Cecilia from Liceul de informatica Tiberiu Popoviciu in Romania, Feliciano from IES Pintor Juan Lara in Spain, Valentina, Radoslava and Svetla from Osmo SU ''Arseni Kostentsev'' in Bulgaria and Laura from Younet in Italy. To get to know each other, they created a personalized avatar to share with the other “players” their experiences, contributions and expectations for the course. After reflecting on how learning happens through games, the group explored the most important differences between gamification and game-based learning through an interactive quiz that allowed them to confront with real classroom examples.
The training moved on analyzing the Octalys framework for Gamification. To use the words of our participants “Octalys is for life” as it provides a uniquely complete and universal framework to understand how games drive motivation and engagement. The participant explored this theoretical framework through a practical and game-based approach including a Quest List to accomplish. Finally, the group discovered what are the common type of game users by simulating a role play scenario.
Having acknowledged that maintaining students’ engagement and reigniting their enthusiasm for learning are probably among the main challenges we face as teachers, we asked ourselves: why can’t we take all the fun and engaging elements found in games and applying them to the educational environment? The reply came through a two-day simulation of real-life adventures and experiences. Our participants discovered the benefits of repacking academic content and deliver it through an escape room experience. During a practical session, the trainees were able to test on their own the mechanics behind the creation of an escape room.
Finally, the stage was left to the participants to share their best practices and classroom examples of game-based lessons and activities. We discovered how to create engaging self-study and interactive lesson with Livresq thanks to Cecilia’s contribution, how to transform a simple Padlet into a game-based platform with Letitia’s example, how to create games with Learningapps and Hot Potatoes thanks to Svetla’s contribution and finally how to create an engaging escape room experience thanks to Felix passionate approach to his subject, history.
To leave the final word to our participants… The course was truly helpful to understand the principles of gamification and game-based learning, because I learned how to use tools and apps in a real gamified educational environment.
The Trainer - Sara Natalini