Hardly any child wants to go through the mundane task of studying. On our first visit to a school participating in the Government’s Tablets in Schools Programme, a child ran up to us and showed us his tablet. He had been watching a video on Youtube. Similarly, when a child has your smart device the first question asked is, “What games/videos do you have on your phone/tablet?” Children want to play games. They just want to have fun. And many times children have been conditioned to think that learning and school is a chore.
On the contrary learning is one of the most exciting, and albeit fun, aspects of life. For as long as you live, you will learn and that in itself is fun but sometimes translating learning to fun can be difficult. So how do you bring fun into learning? GAMES.
Gamification is the foundation on which EduFocal is built. Some may have less of an appreciation for it but what makes gamified experiences successful lies in how people are motivated. Gamification works by providing not only extrinsic motivation but intrinsic as well. Extrinisic motivation comes in the form of rewards, levels, leaderboards and rankings while intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, drives behaviours that result in enjoyment, positive feelings and happiness. These are often thought of as polar opposites but both are linked as extrinsic motivation can drive intrinsic.
Meaningful gamification, though, is not just about levels and leaderboards but targeting intrinsically-motivated behaviours. EduFocal’s platform does just that and as a result drives long term engagement in a non-game setting. Andrzej Marczewski’s RAMP theory illustrates this. He explains that there are four key motivational drivers which should be used as foundations for all good gamified systems:
- Relatedness: social status, connections, belonging.
- Autonomy: creativity, choice, freedom, responsibility
- Mastery: learning, personal development, levels
- Purpose: altruism, meaning, a reason why
EduFocal’s quick and easy messaging system is the bedrock of the EduFocal community which kids have even called a “social network”. They like being a part of a community. Friendships are created on EduFocal and having the student’s progress public via the leaderboard allows other to encourage their friends to do better or congratulate them on their good work. Often times students form internal competitions and face off against each other. This may seem extrinsic but it extends beyond that as students are motivated by the feeling that their peers value their input and experience.
Freedom is the core concept of this driver. Many games these days have several modes of play from which you can choose. On EduFocal students can choose from activities by subject and topic regardless of where they are in classes. They may review material previously taught or they may venture into an area they have never done before. This helps them feel in control of their learning and take personal responsibility for it. With this level of autonomy, students may choose to focus on subject areas that they are proficient in and neglect weak areas but EduFocal’s system rewards all-rounded students thereby encouraging this behaviour.
All students on EduFocal start off on the same level. With hard work and lots and lots of practice, they are able to level up and earn a place on our EduFocal leaderboards. Even on a personal level, students benefit from seeing their points stack up given the work they have put in. It is important to us that we feel a sense of accomplishment when faced with a challenge and be continuously challenged. EduFocal is designed to engage users based on their level as such high level users would receive more difficult tests. This is important in continuing engagement and without it students begin to feel less motivated.
In all things we do, we must feel a sense of purpose. It is only human. At different stages in life, our sense of purpose varies. Students on EduFocal have already joined for the purpose of doing well in their GSAT and CSEC examinations. Beyond that though, is the purpose that they share with each other, their dreams and aspirations of being paediatricians and going to Campion College or St. Hilda’s High School and getting all one’s. In spite of having prizes like phone credit, movie tickets and cash grants, students are not lost on their higher purpose being a part of this community and in this regard EduFocal’s reward system is the icing on the cake.
Concepts which contribute to the success of gamification are hard to grasp at first. However, seeing the excitement play out in how students interact with each other and excel in their studies would convert the most stubborn skeptic. Students love games. They like competing with their friends. They like to say, “I see you’re at 500points. I’m going to beat you by tomorrow.” And in response that child aims for even more points and an even higher level. It’s a constant state of iron sharpening iron. Our high level of engagement creates lifelong learners which is evident to parents, and teachers too, who understand the unique value brought by EduFocal when your child is in love with learning and continuously motivated to learn.