This term, I have had the great joy of using gamestarmechanic.com
with some Year 4 students. Quite a lot of learning has occurred for both sides about the use of gamification in education.
Teacher Librarian Learning
* Game Design integrates across all areas in the curriculum. It was Science and Technology outcomes the class teachers wanted to address and they wanted me to do some claymation, animation using iMovie or something. When I found this website, epiphany number 1 occurred – it is our role as educators of the 21st Century to meet these students where they are at, employ skills and techniques that they are familiar with to gain their trust and attention that you’re on their side and have their best interests at heart.
* Epiphany number 2 – Game design is certainly not a time waster! Through using games students collaborate and encourage and find their confidence in their abilities.
* Epiphany number 3 – A GOOD game is one which seeks to use story or content, there needs to be a beginning, a middle and an end. Therefore, in the 21st Century, games need to receive their place in curriculum as they are text – visual, yet text that students interact with. They need to commit to this text and they work their way through the story. To design a good story they also need an understanding of technical elements, balance, purpose, goals etc
* Epiphany Number 3 – As digital citizens we need to be encouraging students to give feedback and comments that have substance to those games they play and those apps they purchase. We as teachers have an ethical and professional responsibility to teach our students and empower them to view this digital world as theirs. They need to be taught how to be critical evaluators of the content they encounter and they need to learn to not support some of the absolute rubbish that is present in their digital landscape.
* Epiphany Number 4 – We need to teach our students the digital footprint they leave and make them aware that they may not see a “person” or interact with a human when they are looking at their screens, but every time they log in to a website and interact with it, there is a connection made to that site from their device whatever it may be.
* Epiphany Number 5 – Gaming involves problem-solving, decision-making, critical thinking, negotiation, collaboration and learning is FUN.
What the students have told me they are learning?
* Learning can be FUN!
* The need to read the screen rather than being tempted to just work it out on the run. 21st Century learners have this need for instant gratification. Through this gaming experience they are learning that to rush in reaps no rewards.
* They are learning how to comment and understanding that some comments are space wasters.
* They are learning that they are part of a virtual world and to be part of it they need to be responsible digital citizens.
* They are recognising the creativity of others.
* They have thought about the language of games and is it appropriate.
* They are toying with the idea that games don’t have to be violent to be effective and fun.
The role of the Teacher Librarian is to meet the resource needs of all learners in the community then I have seen a definite role and place for gamification in the curriculum and as a resource.
Congratulations, gamestarmechanics, you have opened this teacher librarians eyes to what a BRILLIANT educational website can look like and the value of gamification in education.