Methodology for the implementation of gamification.

Democritus University of Thrace – Department of Greek Philology
School of Classical Studies and Humanities

The use of games is internationally recognized as a good practice for increasing learner motivation and engagement in the learning process. Gamification helps develop higher-order skills such as critical thinking, synthesis, and information analysis. Τhe evolution and effectiveness of educational games, combined with the high motivation and pleasure they offer for the user, has given impetus to the development of gamification methodology.

The gaining prevalence of gamification comes from confidence in its capability to cultivate inspiration, provoke changes, create well-disposed rivalry and coordinate effort in various settings including client commitment, worker execution, and social reliability. More specifically, gamification methodology offers a framework/guide for designing interactive activities in order to maximize motivation, create a pleasant experience for the learner, and maintain his/her interest and engagement. In this context, gamification exploits games for purposes beyond that of entertainment.

Gamification methodology uses incentivization mechanisms (such as reward points, prizes, and leaderboards) and aims to enhance the learner’s interest and will to learn. At the same time, mobile devices, due to their advanced features, are an effective means of implementing applications that incorporate features and elements of gamification methodology. In particular, mobile devices make the educational gamified application highly suitable and effective for motivating users.  Gamification allows the learner to set his/her own training objectives and to be guided in shaping attitudes and behavior through self-observation and self-evaluation. The learners have the opportunity to define their own goals, design a series of strategies and actions, interact with the educational content and environment, and directly recognize the results of their actions so that they can perceive correct and incorrect decision choices. The above are basic principles and processes of the self-regulated learning model, according to which the individual himself regulates his/her behavior, determines his/her goals, observes, directs his/her own decisions, and evaluates the consequences of his/her behavior.

Current technologies that drive modern e-Learning and m(obile)-Learning platforms already incorporate many of the above elements and principles, thereby offering personalized content and providing a learning experience carefully tailored to each user. Mobile learning is a consistently trending domain mainly due to its ability to maintain a constant link with the user. Micro-content offers the perfect platform to apply gamification and significantly improve positive patterns in user retention. Every learning task or objective can be designed to pose the right challenge, requiring a timed response and offering an adequate reward. The cognitive effort for each gamified aspect can be balanced within the context of a game, which should be difficult enough to maintain a learning curve that efficiently blends fast-paced learning with entertainment. Application of the rule “easy to learn but hard to master”—while also providing mechanisms that acknowledge excellence and skillfulness—can foster a competitive atmosphere that attracts fast learners and students seeking a challenge. Furthermore, gamifying team effort by assigning roles, coordinating individual tasks and creating collective goals with bigger rewards can attract a greater social group of users and learners. In this context, gamification can be an effective educational tool that develops collaborative learning by placing users in multi-player environments. Simulating goal-oriented scenarios in virtual spaces allows learners to experience, explore, and create together while competing between themselves and other teams. Such contexts can stimulate knowledge exchange and help develop interpersonal skills such as negotiation, problem resolution, collective thinking, and collaborative decision-making.

Our project aims to contribute to the awareness of cultural heritage through modern strategies and tools that promote the digital skills of tomorrow’s citizens. The project aims to bring together educators, members of organizations and young people in order to highlight a best practice that will be used in the field of education and to train participants in new methods and digital skills. It will take place transnationally, as partnerships can enable organizations to identify and collaborate with target groups, gain expertise and access to additional and complementary resources, and deliver high quality results.

This project proposes a new conceptual framework that connects the gamification methodology with the model of self-regulated learning and the potential of mobile devices to provide new possibilities for the wider use of this methodology in education. The framework proposed in this project is based on existing knowledge and experience regarding the adoption and application of such practices in education. It provides important knowledge and guidance at all stages of development (design, development, implementation, evaluation). By exploiting the specifications of mobile devices this project will incorporate gamification principles and orchestrate game-based learning and self-paced learning principles in order to foster higher-order thinking skills.  This will gradually enable the educational community to upgrade the quality of the educational process, putting the learner at the center of interest in order to enhance his/her motivation and interaction. Moreover, the reuse of the proposed conceptual framework will boost the ever-increasing development of high-level thinking skills, upgrading the skills of 21st century citizens, which will in turn bring multiple long-term benefits to education, the economy, and society as a whole.

It is an interdisciplinary approach based both on the existing bibliography concerning educational design, adaptation of the gamification approach to an educational context, appropriate selection of educational objects for the purpose of generating useful serious games, and the use of technology to harness the potential of mobile devices.

A review of the existing bibliography will be carried out in the fields of interest incorporated into the proposed framework: a) Digital game-based learning, b) Methodology and mechanisms of gamification, c) Mobile learning and d) Development of higher-order thinking skills.

In addition, tools and best practices that leverage mobile devices for education through gamification applications are also presented. These best practices contribute to a better understanding of the importance of selecting appropriate gamification mechanisms and designing educational application scenarios to achieve clearly defined educational objectives, foremost in the field of cultural heritage concerning legacy, memories, physical places, objects and intangible beliefs and practices as a key to identity, well-being, decisions and actions. The conclusions drawn from both the bibliography survey and the analysis of best practices contribute to the design of the proposed conceptual framework, which orchestrates self-regulation methodology with gamification principles, game-based learning, and the key features of mobile devices. The process supports educational practices aimed at developing higher-order thinking skills.

In order to evaluate the reliability of the proposed conceptualization, utilization scenarios for the development of higher-order thinking skills will be developed. The characteristics that the teaching scenarios should display are: a) Completeness in the description/structure of the learning scenario (existence of well-written objectives, defined roles and prerequisites concerning cultural heritage), b) Variety of activities which serve the predefined objectives, and plot of the learning scenario, c) Selection of educational media/tools appropriate to the proposed activities and d) Creativity in learning design to achieve learning objectives (that is, learners cooperate, interact, and are actively involved in the learning process). Finally, a pilot implementation will be planned in detail.