Waiting for Gamification in Higher Education

When I was a kid I loved reading comic books. One of my favourite series was the Adventures of Tintin. I just had to have the video game of the same name was recently released for iPad. During Christmas break I couldn’t stop playing the game; but the more I played it, the more I thought, “Why can’t we do this in education?”

For me the game had the challenge of learning to use the controls, I had to solve problems, there was a clean storyline, good animation, and I was rewarded for going off the beaten path as I (or should I say Tintin and Snowy) looked for gold coins. The skill level, for control and thinking, increased as the game progressed.

These key elements of gaming have been around since humans invented games. Unfortunately, educational games today come to an abrupt halt by the time someone enrolls in college or university. I would have loved to play an adventure game to help me learn four hundred years of Canadian history, or psychology, or research methods. Continue reading

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Experiential Learning Transforms Learners into Knowledge Seekers

Experiential learning is a term that has been used since the 1930s. David L. Kolb and Ron Fry popularized the term in the 1970s when they developed the Experiential Learning Model (ELM). In the ELM, the learner goes through four steps: The learner has concrete experience, and then reflects upon the experience. The reflection gives the learner time needed to form opinions and hypothesis. Next, the learner tests his or her ideas, after which the learner will most likely change or refine the initial opinions or hypothesis.

The process is often a fun experience where the learner dictates the depth of the learning experience, but can seems rather rigid and may intimidate educators and learners alike with its research-like approach.

Examples of experiential learning often include simulations, role-play, field trips, and other means of immersing the learners in an experience where they are active participants; however, the reflection of the experience is the first instance where actual learning takes.

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Experiential Teaching Methods Help Learners Retain Information

Some instructors deliver a lecture to learners, have a Q & A session, and expect learners to both retain the information and know how to apply their new found knowledge in real-life scenarios.

More than likely, learners will only retain a small part of the information, and not for very long. Learners will then have to study from notes to pass exams. Again, most of the information will not reside in long-term memory.

Instructors and curriculum designers must take reasonably for transferring knowledge, and for using methods that help learners retain information.

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Helping Students Read Case Studies

Case studies are an excellent learning tool for many students and teaching tool for facilitators. Instructors can highlight topics covered in previous classes, provide depth to the material, and help students understand how the course is applicable in the working world.

Preparing students for case study work is highly recommended as it will bring out the best of them and appeal to students with learning styles who require time to digest and mull over the many points of a case study.

Case studies, though, can seem daunting to many students. Some learners find 10 pages of dense material too much to tackle. Good instructors will offer students a few necessary tips before sending them home to read and think.

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Interactive Techniques – Simulations

A couple of weeks ago I had one of the most fun and insightful learning experiences I’ve ever had. It was a simulation of the near-fatal mission to the moon. I’m not going to divulge too much about the training product because it is for sale as a training tool and I’m not in sales.

Approximately a dozen people took part in the all-day simulation, which was used to illustrate the use of processes, policies, roles, responsibilities, and communications. It was an excellent tool to teach decision-making and to illuminate knowledge gaps.

After the simulation, I began to dissect why it is such a useful tool and then why more instructors don’t use simulations. It didn’t take long for me to discover that for simulations to be successful and powerful, they must contain extremely detailed information.

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Interactive Techniques – Using Case Studies to Enhance Learning

Everybody loves a good story. Adult educators have used case studies for decades, and some teachers include several case studies in every course. The reason case studies are such a useful tool is because they help learners apply their knowledge to solve a problem.

Case studies teach learns how to solve problems, create strategies, apply tactics and generally work in the real world without having real world consequences. From an instructor’s perspective, case studies illustrate how well the students can assimilate knowledge into action plans.

Choosing a case study is sometimes a problem, not because there is a shortage of case studies, but because there are many to choose from and very rarely will one fit all the criterion of the topic or course.

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