Gamification Makes Virtual Classrooms Fun And Engaging The most common error by teachers is trying to replicate the brick and mortar classroom experience online to virtual lectures

By Abhinav Sekhri

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The closure of school and college campuses since the outbreak of COVID-19 posed fundamental challenges to the traditional teaching and learning methods. Within a matter of few days, the traditional classrooms in every nook and corner of the country were replaced with different forms of remote learning, using recorded or live lectures on different video conferencing platforms, or even interactive learning solutions provided by various edtech companies.

Each of these e-learning methods has some pros and cons, which we need to carefully evaluate. Several researches indicate that without active engagement with an educator, students' commitment and achievement of learning outcomes goes down by up to 80 per cent. The most common and prevalent error by teachers is trying to replicate the brick-and-mortar classroom experience online to live or recorded lectures. Hence, these are far less engaging and impactful. Instead, the need of the hour is to redesign the pedagogy to suit the current generation. This is where edtech can help in gamifying classes and assessments. It also allows more time for learners to extend themselves outside the virtual classroom.

High touch approach
During the unusual situation like lockdown, teenagers' social interactions were largely limited on online. Thus, it is important to significantly reduce "lecture' time and to increase time spent on experiential activities like building models and prototyping, solving a problem by making small virtual teams with their classmates. Apart from this high touch virtual gamification offered by edtech tools, educators should also look at curating activities using physical tools and materials that students can engage with in their home environment. This approach opens up new opportunities for creativity not often available in on-campus lessons.

Feedback and assessment
Conversation, reflection and self-correction are pivotal to the online learning process. So too is the continuous assessment during the learning process and the opportunities. An interactive online environment helps record and playback the sessions for review, assisting students in their understanding of the critical concepts and lends itself to the gamification of formative assessment through easily constructed (and reusable) quizzes and games on edtech platforms designed for this purpose. This cuts down the stress level and increases student engagement. Additionally, it also with the added benefit of fortifying bonds among students and with teachers.

From low order questions to high order skills
Gamification also helps assessment process move away from lower order questions and push students towards the higher order skills, best suited for their individual self. Thus, they do not (perhaps, cannot) copy from one another or to Google an answer. To explain this further, when learners are engaged in a game that demands them to draw from their own life experience, to judge, critique or to create, their response are always unique. This also brings a greater focus on higher order skills, which encourage exploration, extension and growth that may not be possible in a traditional learning method.

Rewards for each milestone, instead of just the learning goal

Instead of just focusing on the big goal, gamification allows teachers to design rewards for each milestone. This will help encourage learners to achieve a particular milestone and progress to another. While long-term goals can reduce learner motivation, shorter milestones can help motivate them. Apart from that, employees tend to retain knowledge when they acquire knowledge in bite-sized chunks compared to long training.

New opportunities
Online learning is a new frontier for educators and most of them possess no, or very little, formal training in this space. The virtual classroom should not be seen as the understudy to the physical classroom experience but as a different medium offering other, exciting, opportunities. Taken to its full potential, gamification enhances the e-learning experience, democratize learning by exposing all students of any means to the best content and to the most appropriate, modern, and engaging way of assessing understanding. Moreover, as edtech platforms make online learning mainstream, we will witness the rise of augmented reality, virtual reality and machine learning to further provide customized games and simulate real-life situations, and not just make education more engaging but also closer to the real world.

Abhinav Sekhri

CEO & Founder, Admission24

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