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Integration of technology in education is becoming more and more prevalent each new school year. When I began my own path of schooling in the early 2000’s, the only educational technology I knew was watching informational videos on old VCR tapes. When I graduated high school in 2016, I knew of schools that gave each student an iPad to do work with. The use of technology in classrooms is growing exponentially, but how can we use this technology as a useful tool, rather than a distraction?
I came across an article on Twitter which discussed integrating “gamification” in the classroom at certain schools. Two major problems with technology in the classroom that I recall from high school were that it often felt like teachers integrated technology as a ploy to get us interested in a lesson that was very boring and other distractions often took over actual learning. For instance, I remember using school lap tops to play the Jenga “snake game” rather that doing actual work. This article seems to tackle both of these issues, as it makes the technology in the classroom interesting and fun.
The article was written by Pete Whiting and is called Our Quest Into The Depths Of Gamification. The article disscuses the issue of students feeling like teachers were trying to trick them by using boring technology to teach them lessons by calling this “chocolate covered broccoli”. The article explains “At first, they seem like fun, but they can leave students feeling as though teachers are trying to sneak in some learning.” The art of gamification involves turning the classroom itself into a fun, gaming experience. In this article, the gaming experience includes a collaboration of educators from grade 8 to grade 12. Students begin a quest to colonize Mars in the 8th grade. Each student is given a “job,” such as an engineering or researcher and they must collaborate with one another to make progress towards colonizing the planet. For example, in their 8th grade class, the electricity unit worked on getting lights to work. This promotes working together between the students. All of this is organized by a google site where students can see the progress that they have made.
My reason for sharing this article is that I really believe that this shows the advancements we have made in our ability to use technology for optimal student use. This doesn’t necessarily mean using more technology or more advanced technology, but it means using technology to its optimal value or what will teach our children the most skills. This example of gamification teaches the students to be both contributing members of a society and teaches them the actual lesson plans of the class, all while making it a fun experience.
As a student who just recently graduated high school, I can not explain how much more intrigued I would have been had we worked on a systematic experience of colonizing a planet for four years. This idea can integrate so many aspects of education into this one idea. Biology students could explain the colonization and evolution of species on the planet. Chemistry students could explain the reactions that could have went on, causing life to be possible. This gamification idea unites the scientific classes by creating one common goal. As well as this, students are able to be creative and collaborate with one another. This idea is very progressive and aims towards a student-centered teaching approach. I think this article is a must read!