Thursday, June 22, 2023

Techniques of Online Teaching(10)Final Boss Level-Gmaification in Online Teaching (1/2)

At the start of conducting “Techniques of Online Teaching”, I’ve know that the key to success lay in seamlessly transitioning the tangible experience of "gamified teaching" into "gamified online teaching". Once I figure out this question, I’ve overcome the Final Boss Level of online teaching. But how could I make this transition? How could I make a smooth and effective gamification experience? It left me scratching my head in search of answers.

If you have attended my in-person classes or presentations, you might be amazed by the high level of engagement and interactivity in the room. You may even question if it was all pre-planned or coerced participation. Whether it was corporate executives, healthcare professionals, schoolteachers, university students, or high schoolers, once they stepped into my teaching environment, "interaction" ceased to be an issue. The challenge was not the lack of interaction but rather the intensity of it all.

(In-Person Teaching - A Classroom Filled with Learning Enthusiasts: EduBuzz Speaker 11 - Afternoon 1300 Session)

Perhaps it is hard to imagine, but during my recent demonstrations and presentations on "Online Teaching Techniques," my screen was constantly flooded with raised hands, with over 50 hands raised simultaneously... It was even difficult to navigate the screen, let alone choose who to call on for answers. I always had to remind everyone to "stay in control," "stay calm," and "hold off on raising their hands for now"... As a teacher, this should be considered a "happy challenge."

(Online Teaching-The screen was full with “raise hands”! Even someone writing “Choose us”!!)

The hardness of Online Teaching

Compared to in-person teaching, online teaching makes it easier for students to get distracted. In a physical classroom, there may still be some environmental constraints, but during online teaching, there are no longer the limitations of a physical space or order. While you're teaching, students may have Facebook, YouTube, or messages from their classmates open on the same screen. So, how can we help students stay more focused and engaged?


Let's be fair: this issue is not exclusive to school students. If you're teaching adults or, like us, professionals in the corporate world, the problem of distractions becomes even more pronounced. We are more accustomed to rapidly processing information and multitasking. If we find a class boring or dull, we immediately shift our attention elsewhere. This is true for in-person classes, and online courses only exacerbate the challenge.


Gamification is a crucial key to inspire student engagement and participation in the course!


This is not a secret, as I have written numerous articles, books, and created freely accessible online course videos about "gamification in education" over the past few years. Even before the sudden shift to online teaching in May 2018, I was still writing articles on gamification in education. Moreover, in the past two years, I have authored two academic journal papers on gamification in education and conducted interviews with nearly 40 experts and teachers who excel in implementing gamification in their teaching practices in the country.


Gamification is not about playing games in the classroom (that's called game-based learning or instructional games) and it's not related to software (that's instructional software or game simulations). The definition of gamification is "applying game elements to non-game contexts" (Citation), and gamification in education refers to the application of gamified elements in the classroom to engage students and foster their participation. Common gamification elements include PBL: "Points," "Benefits," and "Leaderboards" (also referred to as badges, but badges are actually part of the benefits, so I prefer to use the term "benefits").


In addition to gamification elements, it's important to align them with 1.      Integration with training goal, immidiate feedback, create a risk-free environment, foster teamwork, set goals and challenges, and gradually increase difficulty, among other gamification principles. Many teachers and studies have shown that when used effectively, gamification can significantly enhance learner engagement. Based on my teaching experience in various settings over the past decade, this method is highly effective when implemented well!

Gamification Online Teaching

In physical classrooms, whether with a large or small number of students, I have been able to comfortably apply gamification in my teaching and presentations over the past few years. No need for any software or apps, just a simple pen and paper for keeping scores, designing a bonus system for the course, brainstorming interactive points, considering the direction or behavior that I want to motivate students to participate in, and ensuring attractive rewards while maintaining a fair ranking system. Of course, group teaching is crucial. These techniques have become part of my teaching DNA, and I can naturally apply them without even thinking.

However, when it comes to online teaching, I initially hit a roadblock!

Since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, I have been pondering this question: "How can gamification be introduced in online teaching?" Interestingly, when the environment shifts online, theoretically, gamification should become easier, as each of us has a computer in front of us. It should be easier to implement gamified scoring or leaderboards, right? But after searching through various online classrooms or conferencing software, I rarely come across integrated gamification mechanisms. Some may argue that "Gather Town" is an example. Well... "Gather Town" makes online meetings feel like a "game," but it's not "gamification" (please refer to the earlier explanation and definition). If software designers understood "gamification in education," the software would include scoring mechanisms. After grouping students (which many software platforms already offer), all the teachers would need to do is click on a student's icon with their mouse when they participate or provide an answer, and the student would earn different points. These points could be tallied individually or for the group, and there could be a visible leaderboard. If online meeting platforms provided gamification features, it would make implementing gamification in online teaching much easier! (Software designers or online conferencing companies, take note! I'm eagerly awaiting your development!)

Unfortunately, after thinking it over, I seem to have not found a suitable gamification integration package or feature.

Creating Online Gamification in Teaching

Since I couldn't find a suitable solution, why not create one myself?

The foundation of gamification lies in teamwork (although individual-based gamification is possible, the effectiveness is significantly lower, as I mentioned in my previous articles). Webex and Zoom both offer breakout room functionalities for group meetings (I heard that Google Meet also has it, and I welcome suggestions for other conferencing software). The important thing is to maintain consistent groupings, and that seems like something the software can handle.

As for the three key elements of gamification: P.B.L, the simplest one is Benefits as rewards. I just need to transform the rewards into an online format, such as... e-books? The real challenge lies in how to score students, how to integrate points or scores with the teams, and how to truly activate gamification.

One day, while walking, I couldn't stop thinking about scoring... scoring... and suddenly, an idea struck me! "Wait?! Why am I fixated on the scoring functionality of software? Why not let everyone keep score themselves?" (Facepalm!)

To be continued...


Feel free to explore the following research papers, which may provide additional insights and secrets to enhance your teaching:

Summary of Gamification Research:

Gamification Research - English Version (SCI Paper): The key elements of gamification in corporate training – The Delphi method

Gamification Research - Chinese Translation: Translated Version of Gamification Research Paper: 遊戲化研究論文中譯版:企業教育訓練遊戲化關鍵要素-德爾菲法研究 (including references)

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