Friday, October 10, 2014

Gaming and Learning

     Gamification is brand new notion for me. To be honest, I am not obsessed with any games at all. I might apply some simple games to arouse my students’ interest in my future class, but I have never thought about the systematic use of game in learning. To combine game and learning is an innovative but risky way, because games, especially computer games nowadays have so much negative effect on people. I think it’s time for me to think about it seriously. 
     To start with, the concept of gamification. According to the article What is Gamification, Gamification is “the concept of applying game mechanics and game design techniques to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals.” In one word, gamification is to use game element to motivate people. So, the problem comes, why game has this function, or why game is attractive? According to Tom Chatfield’ TED video 7 Ways Games Reward the Brain, he says game is doing both the wanting and liking process. You can satisfy your ambition and have emotional engagement as well. In game, there is uncertainty, reasonable probability of success, reward, feedback, engagement and also team collaboration. How can people resist from the charm of playing games?

     So, can we apply these game elements into learning, especially language learning?Stephan J. Franciosi uses the Flow Theory to explore the relationship between digital game based learning (DGBL) and task based language Teaching (TBLT) in his article A Comparison of Computer Game and Language-LearningTask Design Using Flow Theory. Flow is the “mental state experienced during challenging activities in a comfortable zone between "anxiety" and "boredom," where the activity at hand is neither too difficult to be frustrating, nor too easy to be menial” according to the article. Basically, DGBL is more concerned with multi-media activities while TBLT is more concerned with authentic language use for real-life communication. In comparison to TBLT, DGBL has more concrete and explicit goal, more immediate feedback and better difficulty balance to adapt to match players’ skill level. These features are good for learners to facilitate their “intrinsic motivations”. I would use these features of digital games in my future language class because language learning is “a process of trial and error, of repetition and practice, and of incremental progress toward larger goals as a long term” according to 7 Things You Should Know About Games and Learning, that means language learning needs immediate correction, step-by-step goal and proper setting of difficulty level. 
     Despite the downsides mentioned in 7 Things You Should Know About Gamification, students may feel disappointed or frustrated if they don’t win as they expect, gamification will be one of my future teaching plan because it can offer me creative opportunities to keep my students engaged in and have a positive attitude toward learning.

1 comment:

  1. Like all tools, games will only be beneficial if they are carefully chosen to fulfill specific language learning objectives, but they hold great potential!