It is well known that gamification is an engaging technique that enables the creation of a deeper bond between the user and the product. Why does this happen? How does Neuroscience explain this connection? Read the article below by Juliette Denny to learn more.

1. Gamification Forges An Emotional Connection

Gamification involves creating a narrative around the learning activity that describes why the task is relevant to the learner. According to University of Reading researchers, attention spans are affected by the subject’s emotional connection with the activity.

We found that participants’ attention is affected by emotion and priority, such that they pay more attention to particularly vivid information or details that are highly relevant to them, but their retention of low-priority information is impaired” - Michiko Sakaki

2. The Hippocampus Controls Recall

The hippocampus is an area in the lower section of the brain which is largely responsible for knowledge recall. During learning, a strong hippocampal activation makes the content easier to remember and recall (Foerde & Shohamy, 2011). In clinical tests, gameplay has been shown to stimulate these conditions.

Identifying a direct connection between the stimulation of neural circuits and gameplay is a key step in unlocking the potential for game-based tools to inspire positive behavior and improve health” - Brian Knutson, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Stanford University.

3. Dopamine Creates Positive Associations With Learning

Dopamine, or the feel-good hormone, is released whenever we are rewarded for a specific action. Gamification focuses on giving learners instantaneous feedback which might not otherwise be available. By giving virtual rewards for achieving learning goals, learners begin to associate the learning with positive emotions, prompting them to try to repeat it (i.e., seek out more learning).

the neuroscience of gamification in online learning 1

4. The Brain Processes Stories Better Than Facts

One of the key components of a compelling game is a good story. People tend to remember stories better than lists of unconnected facts. This isn’t just a matter of preference; it’s a physiological imperative. When we are engaged in a strong narrative, the brain releases oxytocin – a chemical that generates feelings of trust and empathy. As a result, when the brain receives information presented as a story, it recognises it as being more valid.

5. Badges And Rewards Can Trigger Serotonin Release

Serotonin is a hormone that governs our overall mood. Plenty of serotonin makes for a sunny disposition whereas a drop in serotonin might leave you feeling a bit grumpy. Aside from eating properly, serotonin release is also triggered by remembering past successes. The badge cabinet of a gamified Learning Management System lets learners get a serotonin rush on demand whenever they look at rewards they have earned.

6. Playing Games Releases Endorphins

The thrill and excitement of playing a game is the result of endorphins being released. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkiller but they can also lower stress and anxiety levels, and even create a sense of euphoria. Combined with other neurotransmitters,this helps create an ideal environment for focused learning.

7. Playing Games Keeps The Brain Fit

Studies have shown that gameplay can improve brain functions. In a study conducted by BBC’s Horizon, a test group of older subjects played a popular racing game for 15 hours over 5 weeks. When they were evaluated after that period, their memory and attention span scores had improved by around 30%.

8. Gameplay Reduces Stress

Cortisol is known as the stress hormone and it controls the body’s reaction to stressful situations. When it comes to learning, high levels of cortisol force the brain into survival mode, distracting from the learning in order to deal with the stress. Results of a Texas A&M International University study showed that “games reduce depression and hostile feelings in players through mood management.”

9. Gamification Helps Deal With Cognitive Overload

The brain can only handle a finite amount of information. If the cognitive load is too great, the learner could miss information, resulting in incomplete training. One way that gamification can deal with cognitive load is to present the learning in a more game-like, challenge-based format. Along with the other neurological benefits of gamification, this approach helps to chunk the learning into smaller pieces that are easier to retain.

10. Games Teach Work Skills

The workforce is filling with people who grew up playing complex video games that require a lot of intricate coordination. By commanding a Roman army to victory or managing the facilities of a virtual city, players can gain skills like resource management and prioritisation.

These young people may be better equipped to switch between tasks easily, adapt to new information, and modify their strategy as new input comes in.” – Judy Willis, M.D., American Academy of Neurology

With gamification and game-based learning producing some outstanding results, the scientific community is conducting more and more research into the power of gameplay in non-game scenarios.

Original article by Juliette Denny

Published in Gamification
Friday, 05 October 2018 16:00

Blind Kahoots

So you have been using Kahoot! to evaluate students for a while now, but have you ever considered to implement Kahoot! when presenting a new lesson or concept?

Blind Kahoot Video

While many people create and play kahoots for review, formative assessment or to re-energise the class, others are using Kahoot! differently in a new approach called Blind Kahoot. Blind kahoots are designed to give every learner a chance to feel success and motivation throughout the game, and with long lasting effects. In a single game, you’ll be sparking curiosity about the new topic, laying the foundations for understanding increasingly complex concepts, and giving learners the opportunity to immediately and successfully apply their knowledge.

 Below are a few steps that you can have in mind while creating your own Blind Kahoots

  • Introduce the game to let learners know what to expect, and that it's about learning, not about getting all of the answers right the first time.
  • Use a "Blind" question (a question about something completely new to them) to spark curiosity, so learners are more receptive to the explanation.
  • Explain the answer
  • Reinforce using a series of questions focused solely on what they have just learned
  • Another Blind question prompts learners to actively listen to the explanation - this is a great opportunity to teach subtleties, exceptions to the rule or to build on what they have just learned
  • Reinforce with another series of questions solely about the most recent Blind question
  • Now use Compound Reinforcement to help learners consolidate everything they have learned in the whole kahoot
Published in Gamification

Gamification


Nowadays countless activities involve us in a process of collecting points. You may get points for buying regularly from your local coffee shop, your neighborhood supermarket or even by travelling with the same airlines. Those are just a few common examples of gamification in the everyday life for most of us.
Gaming is the use of game mechanics in non-playable situations (Detering, Dixon, Khaled, & Nacke, 2011). This way, the game-related elements are used to directly improve the user experience and enhance one’s interest, encouraging greater product loyalty.

Published in Articles
Saturday, 30 December 2017 09:43

Gamification

The gamification of learning is a modern, student friendly, efficient way of teaching and deliving content. This approach uses the elements and characteristics of video games to transform teaching in a way that will greatly affect students' engagement.

Published in Articles

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According to Gee's evaluation criteria (2003), educational video games must be pedagogically driven and appropriate to promote learning. These criteria refer to the motivation given to the student when using the application or game, the potential problems he / she will be faced with and his / her level of interactivity.

Johnny Grammar's Word Challenge is an application suitable for Android and IOS devices. It is really beneficial for students who learn English and want to improve their knowledge of grammar and vocabulary. The aim of the game is to answer as many correct questions as possible within a minute, with the user receiving badges depending on his performance (Grammar Guru, Word Wizard and Supreme Speller badges). By winning badges the player is placed on a leaderboard competing with other players worldwide.

badges

There are three levels of difficulty (easy, medium and hard) depending on the level of questions asked. In the vocabulary category there are 10 sub-categories related to food, travels, idioms, movies, hobbies etc. In the grammar category there are 12 sub-categories related to intentions, irregular verbs, auxiliary verbs, etc.

After completing quizzes, the application offers feedback so the user can evaluate the answers given. In fact, through this gamification process, the user indirectly aims at improving the cognitive knowledge’s capacity as this improvement will also lead to a better placement in the ranking board.

Assessing the "Johnny Grammar's Word Challenge" application with Gee's criteria for mobilizing the student, this game is structured in such a way that it makes the user feel that his action have a meaning (Gee, 2004). Problems in the application are well organized as there is a scaling difficulty so the learner can easily start from the lowest level of difficulty and reach the highest, making the challenges easily manageable (Gee, 2004). Another advantage is the immediate feedback given as the student quickly acquires an image of his level and knowledge. This is a valid update on the processes that should or have been applied, which serves in understanding and building new knowledge. After all it is widely known that people learn skills, strategies and ideas better when they see how they fit into a more general frame which is meaningful for them. In fact, every experience is reinforced when we understand how it fits into a more important set.

Bibliography:

Gee, J.P. (2004). Learning by design: Games as learning machines. Interactive Educational Multimedia, (8), 15-23.

Published in Learning on the go
Friday, 15 December 2017 18:19

Socrative

Socrative is a tool primarily designed to evaluate the learner. The application (response system) allows the educator to create several kinds of quizzes: Multiple Choice, Right or Wrong, Brief Response, etc. Those quizzes are accessible by the tutor who has access to view the responses of each student (Kokina, & Juras, 2017). There is also another option called “Exit Ticket”, which provides a direct insight into the students' understanding of the main points of the course. (Tretinjak, Bednjanec & Tretinjak, 2015).

Socrative is also a tool of gamification since it is a virtual environment which is full of challenges that pupils have to respond to. Unlike other applications it doesn’t embed a reward system but through its leaderboard option students can recognize their weaknesses and improve their knowledge. After a quiz is done, the teacher receives a report which records individual performance. Then the educator can share this report with the learners and process the results of their responses.


An other useful option is the “Space Race”. When using the “Space race” option, the answers are given by groups of students, thus enriching the group-work spirit and the element of competition between the different teams. As stated in an article by Ferrándiz, Puentes, Moreno, & Flores, (2016), Socrative allows group collaboration and competition. As a result the students become more motivated compared to the usual quizzes.

All in all, it can be said that the use of Socrative in class  strengthens the metacognitive processes of  learners while promoting learning at the same time.

Bibliography

Kokina, J., & Juras, P. E. (2017). Using Socrative to Enhance Instruction in an Accounting Classroom. Journal Of Emerging Technologies In Accounting, 14(1), 85-97. doi:10.2308/jeta-51700

Tretinjak, M. F., Bednjanec, A., & Tretinjak, M. (2015). Interactive teaching with Socrative. 2015 38Th International Convention On Information & Communication Technology, Electronics & Microelectronics (MIPRO), 848.

Ferrándiz, E., Puentes, C., Moreno, P. J., & Flores, E. (2016). engaging and assessing students through their electronic devices and real time quizzes. Multidisciplinary Journal for Education, Social and Technological Sciences, 3(2), 173-184.

 

Published in Management tools
Tuesday, 05 December 2017 10:24

QuizUp

Logo

QuizUp is an application designed for IOS and Android devices where two compete in a quiz. This means that there is a need for an internet connection throughout the game. Initially, the user creates his or her own account, uploads an image that differentiates him from the other contestants and selects the categories of interest, thus giving the necessary meaning to the game.

Structure:

There are a number of categories from which the user can choose, some of them are of educational content and others are simply less connected to the learning process. These categories include topics from history, technology, literature, science, geography, mathematics, business, film, and even video games. The categories are given beautifully and clearly for the user, while the database of available quizzes is huge, with new quizzes being added daily. It is worth mentioning the ability of the user to compete in two types of play modes. The Single Player Game is a mode where the player is playing alone, essentially struggling without an opponent. His goal is to advance as far as he can in the selected category. The second mode is called Random Opponent Game, where the player faces other players from around the world. Both players have to deal with 7 questions, gathering points according to the answer and the speed that the correct answer was given. Winner is the one who has collected the most points during the session.

quiz

User Experience:

 One of the most important elements that enhance the player's interest is that in QuizUp he participates in a quiz on topics he already knows enough, as opposed to a more classic knowledge game that puts some random questions to the contestants. QuizUp also differs from other similar applications as it allows the player to communicate with his opponents, start debates, follow others, challenge friends, win achievements, and connect their Facebook and Google+ devices. The experience of the user is also enriched by the fact that regular tournaments are offered in the application. Thus, it can be said that it creates an active community of practice by promoting communication and interaction with other people who share common interests, ultimately leading to the establishment of new knowledge. Whenever a user wins a QuizUp, he wins points that are called experience points. The motivation is also increased because of the engagement that is developed through the option of Rankings, which are the game’s leaderboards. There the player is ranked according to the experience points he has collected in each category of interest.

rankings

According to researchers (Vandercruysse, Vandewaetere, Cornillie & Clarebout, 2013), the competition cultivated on videogames will then lead to greater enthusiasm, which will ultimately lead to more concentration and desire for improvement in the subject.

After the Quiz is over, the player receives in-depth feedback on his own and his opponent's selections, and in case of a winning outcome, he is rewarded with specific badges that are visible in his profile, thus further enhancing the gaming feature. According to Prensky (2001), uninterrupted feedback provided in a variety of forms rather than one-dimensional is responsible for establishing knowledge in the mind of the user, leading him to alternate his mistaken choices and ultimately to success.

feedbackachieve1achieve2

However, a drawback is the existence of Gems and Coins that are either earned through the application or purchased with real money. Those items allow the user to accumulate more experience points or redeem them to be able to participate in some tournaments while having certain advantages compared to other competitors.

Design:

The design of the application is surprisingly good. It is bright and colorful but at the same time well-organized and ergonomic. Players will have no problem navigating in the application, finding the topics they like or participating in a game. During the quiz, the screen is properly designed with minimal distractions. The only thing the player can see is the score, questions and answers along with each player's name and profile picture. This helps the player immerse in the game by placing it in a state of flow. As Gee (2008) has highlighted, video games such as QuizUp offer experiences to people in a virtual world using the gameplay mechanics that it integrates to solve problems in an attractive and fun environment.

QuizUp is a great game that is worthwhile recommending to your students to use either at home or in the classroom through appropriate guidance. Besides, people find learning pleasant under the right conditions, which are often not those found in traditional school. As various scholars believe, schools will surely benefit from the use of videogames in the classroom (Gee, 2004). After all games like QuizUp do not give gamers information that is unrelated to their context, but only those that are necessary, while providing purpose in creating the person's participation in social life, through groups that provide meaning to goals, interpretations, practices, explanations, feedback, and the prerequisites for deep learning through experiences (Gee, 2008)

Bibliography:

Gee, J. P. (2008). Learning and games. The ecology of games: Connecting youth, games, and learning3, 21-40.

Gee, J. P. (2004). Learning by design: Games as learning machines. Interactive Educational Multimedia, (8), 15-23.

Prensky, M. (2001). Fun, play, and games: What makes games engaging? In Digital game-based learning. (pp. 11-16). New York, NY: McGraw Hill

Vandercruysse, S., Vandewaetere, M., Cornillie, F., & Clarebout, G. (2013). Competition and students’ perceptions in a game-based language learning environment. Educational Technology Research and Development, 61(6), 927–950. doi:10.1007/s11423-013-9314-5 

 

Published in Gamification

Duolingo

One of the most popular and well-known tools for learning a language online is Duolingo. Duolingo is completely free, easy to use and makes it a lot of fun the acquisition of a new language. There is a variety of languages you can choose from, including English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Dutch, Swedish, Turkish, Japanese, Norwegian, Danish, Polish, Hebrew, Vietnamese, Greek, Ukrainian, Welsh, Hungarian, Swahili, Korean, Romanian, Czech and Chinese.

How does it work?

Duolingo is a great example of a straightforward language app. It’s really simple to use. You set up a profile, choose your target language, set your weekly goals (only if you’re brave enough) and off you go! There is an option to ‘test out a language’ when you begin a new language. You can start with the basics or you can take an ‘entry test’ and let the app determine your fluency level.

Each course in Duolingo is made up of modules. The modules upon completion are grouped to form the student's language level. Duolingo dictates the order in which you need to complete the different modules, with new modules becoming active only once you’ve completed the previous one. This is also the case with individual lessons within each module. For example you have to complete lesson 1 in order to be able to progress to lesson 2, and so on.There are dozens of sets of lessons at Duolingo called Skills. Some of them include the following: Basics, Phrases, Food, Present, Adjectives, Plurals, Family, Questions, Numbers, Household, Colors, Comparison, Qualifiers, Measure, Clothing, Animals, Prepositions, Dates & Time, Nature, and Medical.

At the end of each lesson, you get a progress report that also shows your ‘streak’ – the number of days in a row that you’ve completed.Keep in mind that a user account isn't required to use Duolingo, but it's recommended if you want to keep track of your progress.

Interface

Pedagogical background:

The lessons include images, text, and audio, and sometimes has you speak into a microphone (if you have one) to test your speaking and pronunciation skills. New vocabulary is often taught with images, and grammar points are explained in little speech bubbles. There are also listening exercises where you need to type what you hear, and speaking exercises where you say what you hear. Duolingo recognizes that language learners need to be motivated to make sure they come back to the app and engage in some more language fun. Duolingo is a constructivistic tool that uses several different methods to keep you interested but the most useful is the Gamification .The goals a student can choose from range from ‘casual’ to ‘insane’, depending on how serious one is about learning and how quickly one wants to progress. This works well for those who are motivated by the idea of making a ‘formal arrangement’ with the app. The theory of gamification is applied since you get extra points called Lingots every time you complete one of the goals that you or the application has set, thus increasing the motivation of the learner. It can also attract visual learners due to the fact that a lot of the learning that goes on in Duolingo is visual. There are pictures for learning vocabulary, colours that indicate whether you’re right or wrong, and highlighted tapable text for new words or grammar points.

Technological background:

Duolingo is an adaptive web 2.0 meaning that the program adapts to you, it learns what you know by usage and suggests what you should learn next. To achieve that it uses an algorithm that calculates data from articles found on the Internet to automatically build courses, considering it will adapt automatically as the language evolves. Duolingo is available on Personal Computers, Mobile devices (IOS and Android)

Interface

Published in Learning on the go
Sunday, 26 November 2017 17:34

Civilization Series

Main screen

The "Civilization" computer game series is a creation of Sid Meier,a well known digital video game producer and creator.

All games in the series follow the same pattern. These are strategy games in which the player is asked to take on a historical culture and develop his imaginary empire through the different periods of the past and of the future (Sakic & Varga, 2015). The player is called upon to exploit the natural resources in the game, to enter into trade agreements with other cultures, to build cities, to conduct warfare in order to show his culture as the strongest in the game (Squire, 2008).
 
The first "Civilization" was released to the public in 1991 and since then 13 different versions of the game have been released as well as many expansion packs for existing expansion packs. Although the 1991 version does not seem particularly complicated in our eyes today, it was pioneering, as at that time the resources available for developing digital computer games were limited due to the limited number of personal computer owners, making it a benchmark due to complexity in comparison with Sid Meier's Civilization (The Complete evolution Timeline, 2017).
civ 6
In 1994 and 1995 Colonization and CivNet became available respectively. It is worth mentioning this unique version of CivNet, which, when watching the internet come in tersely in the homes added the option of online game play among users (Civilization Series, 2017). As the years passed and the computers evolved in relation to the capabilities they provided so the series improved and gained more data. 1996 was the year of Civilization II, and in 2001 at the dawn of the 21st Century Civilization III was released. Now with computers being part of the public's entertainment, the need for optimal graphics and better online connectivity between players led to the creation of Civilization IV, which was distinguished by an improved system of intelligence technician (Famularo, 2016) requiring a more sophisticated perception and behavior (Wainwright, 2014). With the massive entry of smart phones into the market, there has been a need to create games that are compatible with these mobile devices. So 2009 was the first time a game of the Civilization series revolutionized, as it was developed in addition to personal computers on the Wii, Xbox 360 and mobile devices running Windows and IOS (Civilization Revolution, n.d). Then, in 2010, Civilization V came in, which introduced a large-scale three-dimensional representation of the game's objects (Civilization Series, 2017), while the battle system evolved rapidly as it demanded a more strategic and sophisticated approach by users (Famularo, 2016). The corresponding version of the Android-powered mobile game came in 2011. The latest and most complete version currently available for sale is "Civilization VI", which features detailed graphical representations, a wealth of variety of features and options, developed intelligence system, an inexpensive online gaming experience, and a host of other improvements that have come to enhance the most successful strategy game series for 25 years (Civilization Series, 2017 ).
 
Educational background
In conclusion, it is worth mentioning that various teachers, considering their potential educational potential, attempted to introduce them to the classroom first with Squire's leading researcher in the field of educational games Squire in 2005 (Sakic & Varga, 2015), efforts which ultimately led to the development of a clean "CivilizationEdu", which is expected in the end of 2017 and will include, beyond the game, instructions, tips and educational videos to teachers s to use it to enhance their teaching (Frank, 2016).
Civ Education Edition

Bibliography
Šakic, M. & Varga, V. (2015, September) VIDEO GAMES AS AN EDUCATION TOOL. Paper presented at the Sixth International Conference on e-Learning (eLearning-2015),
Sid Meier's Civilization: The Complete Evolution Timeline (2017). https://inside.worldgaming.com/sid-meiers-civilization-evolution-timeline/ ">Retrieved October 1, 2017, by https://inside.worldgaming.com/sid-meiers-civilization-evolution-timeline/

Squire, K.D. (2008). Video games and education: Designing learning systems for an interactive age. Educational Technology. 48 (20). 17-26
Familaro, J. (2016) The Evolution of 'Civilization' Over 25 Years One of the gaming's classic franchises continues to conquer. https://www.inverse.com/article/22373-civilization-">Retrieved October 1, 2017, by https://www.inverse.com/article/22373-civilization-

Published in Video Games
Friday, 24 November 2017 12:23

Minecraft

Create magnificent scenes

Minecraft is a building game in which the user is called within its virtual world to place and customize bricks (or as they are called in this game, Blocks) and materials to build constructions that can be functional or not. The user also has to choose from a series of playable scenarios that are distinguished in creative, adventure and survival modes and can also chose to play alone or with others in the multiplayer mode (Nebel, Schneider & Rey, 2015). The particularly useful scenario of creativity is one that provides the greatest potential for educational use as players have unlimited materials to develop the constructions they desire, without being limited by drawbacks such as slow movement from one place to another or the risk their virtual character experiences death, like it happens in the survival mode (Overby & Jones, 2015).

The nature of the game that involves the player in problems with various objects that interact with his decisions, the plethora of choices the user allows, the freedom of movement and choices from the creation of the character to the development of the constructions, puts him in the place of the creator and not just the consumer, resulting in Minecraft being a tool that contains many of the elements of constructivism theories (Overby & Jones, 2015; Nebel, Schneider & Rey, 2015), redefining it as a highly lucrative and benefitial application to any class (Petrov, 2014).

The game is extremely easy to install and can even work on computer systems or mobile devices with low limited infrastructure, although the multiplayer mode obviously requires internet access (Overby & Jones, 2015; Nebel, Schneider & Rey , 2015). The offered actions that can be implemented in the world are varied and can be used to enhance various teaching subjects such as arts, environmental sensitivity, architecture, mechanics, physics, mathematics and history. (Petrov , 2014; Overby & Jones, 2015).

Minecraft is linked to many different learning theories

The benefits associated with the use of Minecraft for educational purposes are a lot. The most important are that Minecraft is linked with the development of students' critical thinking, enhancing creativity, and fostering digital literacy in an environment with increased motivation (Petrov, 2014 (Nebel, Schneider & Rey, 2015). If used in an online environment that allows multi-player involvement, it increases student collaboration and teamwork since it operates as a tool of social constructivism (Nebel, Schneider & Rey, 2015).

In conclusion, it is worth mentioning that there is also an educational version of Minecraft available, MinecraftEDU, which provides the appropriate tools for teachers to evaluate student-player moves, easier game management, and a range of other objects to smoothly adapt to the learning process (Nebel, Schneider & Rey, 2015).

Find more at https://minecraft.net/

Bibliography

Nebel, S., Schneider, S., & Rey, G. D. (2016). Mining Learning and Crafting Scientific Experiments: A Literature Review on the Use of Minecraft in Education and Research. Educational Technology & Society, 19 (2): 355-366.

Overby, A. & Jones, B. L. (2015). Virtual LEGOs: Incorporating Minecraft Into the Art Education Curriculum. Art Education, 68 (1), 21-27.

Petrov, A. (2014). Using Minecraft in Education: A Qualitative Study on the Benefits and Challenges of Game-Based Education (Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation). University of Toronto, Canada.

Published in Video Games
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