In its book “The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education.” Karl Kapp said: “The gamification of learning is an educational approach to motivate students to learn by using video game design and game elements in learning environments”.
In El Salvador, the Education Board is trying to push Gamification as an empowering tool for the democratization of the access to information technology services. This is a very good initiative that I have been implementing for the last two and a half years in a school of a rural town called Quelepa. My Gamification strategy is simple: Let students play in the computer for thirty minutes every Friday.
Back in August 2013, things were a little bit challenging at the beginning of this experiment. One of the main challenges was the lack of modern hardware in the school. All of the computers were over eleven years old, running Windows XP, had an Intel Pentium 4 processor and only 512 MB of RAM. All those gaming sites were off the table, and I had to look for the right software to start this experiment. Thanks to Google and the good friends at www.miportal.edu.sv, I found two educational gaming platforms: ChildsPlay and GCompris.
|Linux offers a wide variety of Educational Games for Free|
The next challenge that I had to face was finding time to implement this experiment. Take into account that in El Salvador, from First grade to Ninth grade, there are no IT classes. So, for good nine years, students are not being exposed to the correct use of information technology resources. So after some research, I realized that the best time to let students play was during each recess of every Friday, to avoid making students bored of the games.
Then the next challenge was to at least teach some students about the computer’s peripherals. As I stated before, none of the students of this school have been exposed to the latest technologies. Even worst, according to several testimonials made by students, the previous person that was in charge of the IT lab only taught them “how to draw with Paint”. The younger students from second, third and fourth grade were not even able to tell where the “ON” button was. So, with the help of several teachers that gave me a portion of their class time, I took the task of teaching them the basic parts of a computer. A month later I was able to start the gamification experiment.
After barely a month and a half of playing, students could use the mouse and keyboard without problems. They knew the difference between “right click” and “left click”, and also learnt how to “drag and drop” elements. It was a huge accomplishment for me and for them. The young students from third and fourth grade did not realize that by playing games, they were learning the basic skills to work in a computer.
In El Salvador the school year ends in mid-November. When it ended, I kept using ChildsPlay and GCompris during the Free IT Classes I gave during Christmas Break to any student in Quelepa.
The next year, 2014, more and more students came to play games each Friday. But now, instead of me teaching them how to turn the computer on, or how to open the program, I asked the students already involved in the experiment to teach them how to do all those things. All of the sudden, not only they learned, but they shared their IT knowledge to their classmates without realizing about it.
Two and a half years later, this experiment helped me to launch the most important project of 2016: Online English Classes with Duolingo
Later on, I will write a review for ChildsPlay and GCompris, that I hope it will help you to launch more “Gamification” projects/experiments