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The Role of Gamification and Enabling technologies in Education Thaisim 2014 Paper

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The nature of education and learning and development has changed dramatically since the introduction of digital technologies. The ability to access knowledge and information on demand has shifted the …

The nature of education and learning and development has changed dramatically since the introduction of digital technologies. The ability to access knowledge and information on demand has shifted the role of teachers away from knowledge dissemination to knowledge facilitation and coaching. Gamification has been an effective practice for education since the dawn of civilization but technologies such as video games and the Internet create opportunities for self-directed learning and development that create new challenges for educators. This presentation explores the role of Gamification and enabling technologies in Education and provides thoughts on how to implement Gamification strategies relevant for today and tomorrow.

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  • 1. The Role of Gamification and Enabling Technologies in Education Thaisim 2014 South East Bangkok University 1/4/2014 David Wortley CEO and Founder GAITSS, Gamification and Immersive Technologies Strategic Solutions, 6E Coriander Road, Leicester, UK E-mail: david@gaitss.net Keywords: Gamification, Education, Internet of Things, Serious Games, Immersive Technologies, E- Learning, Thaisim Abstract. Gamification can be defined as "a process which shapes the world (achieves goals/objectives) by influencing the actions, behaviours, characteristics and states of entities within the world (through the use of games strategies and enabling technologies)". The nature of education and learning and development has changed dramatically since the introduction of digital technologies. The ability to access knowledge and information on demand has shifted the role of teachers away from knowledge dissemination to knowledge facilitation and coaching. Gamification has been an effective practice for education since the dawn of civilization but technologies such as video games and the Internet create opportunities for self-directed learning and development that create new challenges for educators. This presentation explores the role of Gamification and enabling technologies in Education and provides thoughts on how to implement Gamification strategies relevant for today and tomorrow. 1. Introduction For thousands of years until the advent of the internet, Web 2.0 and Search technologies, education relied upon the transfer of knowledge and skills by experts to students and trainees. Each disruptive communications technology such as the printing press, radio, television and digital storage and communications improved the scale and productivity of knowledge transfer but did not significantly the hierarchical structures or the status and value of years of training in specific disciplines or skills and the reliance of students upon those relationships with knowledge professionals. The situation today is unlike any other period in history. For the first time, the majority of citizens in the developed world have on demand access to self-directed learning content and the ability to share their knowledge and ideas with the rest of the world. In the time span of a generation, knowledge generation and dissemination has evolved from a hierarchical knowledge transfer model to a peer to peer network knowledge creation, discovery and sharing model. The implications of this seismic shift for all sectors of society are profound and are already causing disruption and changes to long established organisational structures and practices in many sectors. The effects of these developments are very visible in commercial relationships where “disintermediation” or the removal of layers in a hierarchy has meant that the need for intermediaries disappears since you can deal direct with a source of supply. As well as removing intermediaries whose principal role was to provide informed access to higher levels of resources, we now find that long established businesses in one sector are challenged by more agile businesses with no previous presence in that sector e.g. Virgin Group starting selling records and now own airlines and banks. The
  • 2. same phenomenon applies to education and teachers and lecturers at schools, colleges and universities will be amongst the first to be impacted. This paper explores the potential of gamification and enabling technologies to address some of these challenges within education and draws conclusions about the way forward. 2. The Shift from Hierarchies to Networks From the moment we are born, our growth and development depends not only on our ability to learn about the world we are born into and develop the knowledge and skills necessary to survive, but also on the extent to which we can influence other people. In the early stages of life, we influence and shape our world by exploring and testing reactions to ourselves. Babies instinctively cry when they are hungry or in pain and they learn from their parents’ responses the consequences of those actions. As babies, they do not have the knowledge or resources to be self-sufficient so they rely on developing a relationship with those who can satisfy their needs. In this traditional hierarchy, the parent is the source of knowledge and resources and their reactions shape the behaviour and development of the child. In this relationship, the parent is the master of the relationship but children quickly learn how to influence their parent’s behaviour and unless the relationship is properly managed, children can soon learn to abuse their position and manipulate their parents. Symbols of Authority Society’s development depends on relationships between those who have knowledge, resources and influence and those whose lives depend on these factors. These roles in society are recognised by their status and also entities which symbolise their role such as uniforms, job titles, qualifications and equipment. They gain financial and emotional rewards for their role and the services they provide in
  • 3. the hierarchy. Today’s network society, in which information and global reach is so affordable and accessible, empowers individuals in new and disruptive ways that reduce our dependence on those in authority, especially where knowledge is the basis of that authority. 3. Gamification in Education “Entertain me” Games and social interaction through games have played a major role in our learning and development. Through natural playful activities in nursery school, children learn about their capabilities and develop their skills and knowledge through exploration and response to the consequences of their actions. In this sense, life is one big game in which we can achieve our goals through influencing the actions and behaviours of others. Every day in our childhood brings new challenges in our lives and the most lasting lessons come from guided response to those challenges. The best teachers have always had the ability to stimulate and inspire children by challenging them in very individual ways, acting as leaders and mentors through their personal relationships with each child. Today, technology and video games provide the same stimulating challenges on demand and children develop increasingly high levels of expectation from those given the authority to influence and manage their development. Children who are inspired and passionate about a topic have the tools to do their own research and learning so it becomes increasingly common for children to know more than their teachers about specific topics.
  • 4. 13 year old boy builds nuclear reactor A classic example of this from the UK was the 13 year old boy who built a small scale nuclear reactor in his school’s physics lab but this phenomenon is being repeated in different ways in different educational establishments across the globe. If the authority of teachers can no longer be based on having greater knowledge than those they are responsible for developing, how can educators develop strategies to effectively develop the responsible and capable citizens of tomorrow? I believe that Gamification and Games Strategies can provide some solutions. Leadership Skills In many ways teachers today should liken their work to being conductors of an orchestra whose role it is to get the most from their individual players. The conductor does not necessarily need to be the best player of any one instrument but they have the experience, understanding and awareness of each player’s contribution and they have the ability to inspire, motivate and develop their players both
  • 5. individually and collectively. I therefore believe that the most critical skill to develop within education is the ability to inspire, motivate, facilitate and develop learners by building personal relationships based on a number of key factors I call the “A Team” The A Team – Authority, Aptitude, Ambition, Alignment, Adjacency, Associates, Awareness, Affectedness, Activation, Attractiveness, Accessibility, Affordability 4. Enabling Technologies and Education The success of immersive technologies and video games which develop us should provide some pointers to ways in which we can develop education strategies and teachers to meet this changed world. The technologies and methodologies used by the games industry use gamification strategies to develop reward and incentive mechanisms that fulfil our inbuilt genetic need to be challenged and to learn from our actions. Games achieve this by providing immediate feedback with sounds, images and rewards designed to engage us and, increasingly, using artificial intelligence to shape the games to the interests and abilities of the player. These “gamification strategies” or techniques are certainly not new to teachers but they are so much more important to develop in a world where they are competing with technologies that are ubiquitous and accessible 24x7. I believe that most important enabling technologies for education are based on the “internet of things” and the devices and applications that measure, analyse, visualise and provide feedback. Their use in education provides an opportunity to not only empower learners with a greater understanding of their abilities and consequences of their actions but also have the potential to support educators in adjusting to their new roles in society and rewarding and incentivising knowledge sharing, mentoring and relationship brokering. 5. Conclusion The days of “Chalk and Talk” have long since gone but educators have a vital role to play in developing the active and responsible citizens we need if we are to build a sustainable future based on
  • 6. equity and mutual dependence. Gamification strategies and enabling technologies can help to develop the skills, attitudes and approaches that will inspire, motivate and shape today’s learners. About the Author www.gadgetstogodbook.com David Wortley is the author of “Gadgets to God”, a historical perspective of mankind’s changing relationship with technology over the last 60 years and a vision of the future impact of disruptive communications technologies on business and society. He is also a freelance consultant on the strategic use of immersive and emerging technologies such as serious games, virtual worlds and social networks. His passion is helping organisations and individuals to leverage the power of these technologies for competitive advantage and business/personal development. David is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) with a career which has embraced the converging and emerging technologies of telecommunications (Post Office Telecommunications), computing (IBM), digital media and community informatics (Mass Mitec, a rural SME) and the creative industries (De Montfort University Leicester, UK). He is a serial entrepreneur and innovator with a passion for applying technology to social and economic development Web Site: www.gaitss.net Email: david@gaitss.net