Gamification as an innovative educational approach to second language learning

In the article the possibilities of using educational computer games for the development of cognitive activity of students of higher educational institutions are discussed. In the theoretical part of the article the approaches to the analysis of cognitive activity in gamification teaching are described, which need to be carried out in the context of consciousness of the subject in action in the «here and now» mode and to be regarded in the unity of subject and context, operation and logic, emotion, motivation and value components, etc. In this article the use of gaming technology as the use of the game approach and game elements for educational purposes is considered. We offer the implementation of the idea of creating gamification as powerful strategies for applying game mechanics to non-game activity with the purpose of motivating students' interests to study. The form of the game retains its appeal, the ability to meet the needs for self-actualization, competition and success. Gamification is defined as a new technological resource for involving students in cognitive activity, which promotes the formation of individual ways of designing knowledge in the learning process.

Introduction

The use of technology in education has become necessary to fortify the teaching and learning experience in the 21st century. Throughout the years we've seen dramatic changes and experienced transitions that had moved forward computer hardware and software, along with web-based technologies towards instruction. Most of all, we've experienced dramatic changes in the educational interests and the ways to teach different generations. Nowadays, most of the students are digital natives, and they learn and process information differently [1; 1]. The so called millennial generation shares information and is used for blogging, gaming and social networking. Instead of emails they prefer to text and have created a language based on acronyms. They are focused toward everything that is web-based and are not afraid of expressing or assuming an individual or shared vision. Based on this type of learner plenty of instructors from different subjects, including L2 teachers, are implementing several teaching strategies that use plenty of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT's), Distributed Learning, Mobile Learning resources and Game-Based Learning. In addition, these educators are aware of new trends in educational technology and are integrating gamification to their teaching. According to the NMC- Horizon Report, gamification is building support in teachers and the time of adoption is around two to three years. The report established clearly that the gamification of education is gaining support among educators who recognize that effectively designed games can stimulate large gains in productivity and creativity among learners [2].

In addition, gamification has become a tendency in online learning and in professional development for educators. The report presents the example of Kaplan University, which embedded gamification software to their LMS and web applications; they ran a pilot program in one of their information technology courses with plenty of success as the NMC-Horizon Report, it mentions the following: «Students' grades improved 9 % and the number of students who failed the course decreased by 16%».

In regards to professional development for educators the report presents the case of the Deloitte executive firm. They developed the Deloitte Leadership Academy and implemented educational gamification. Some of the game elements they instituted were the use of badges for those who completed the curriculumbased missions. As part of the reward mechanism, learners were able to share their badges in their LinkedIn profile for worldwide view through the Internet.

Gamification has been the subject of research, discussion, and application in L2 learning and second language acquisition a few years now. The objective for integrating Gamification towards education is to unchain a more attractive and effective learning experience for the student. Following this aspect, the L2 learner feels attracted towards having this experience. This is based on the idea the L2 education has been immersed in technology innovation for many years. In order to change or set off a specific behavior, the learners need to be motivated and gamification opens the door for the L2 learner to enhance his language learning experience and at the same time acquire the skill to solve any task or challenge which the class, the unit, or the topic presents. In addition, gamification offers the learners an opportunitto interact among them as it's implied in a social game. Following this criteria gamification and several of the most common approaches and techniques in L2 teaching are being integrated. Another detail is that when people perceive any form of social presence they tend to respond in a natural way to feelings such as happiness, empathy, and frustration, or even follow social rules like taking turns [3].

A very important aspect in gamification with educational purposes is based on the implication that envisions educational objectives. These educational objectives will be seen by the learner as challenges to be accomplished in order to move from one stage to another. At the end the challenge anmoving from one stage to another becomes a part of the learning outcome. This provides alternatives for L2 educators in order to plan effectively toward the language learning experience and fluency levels they are working with and rethink their practices based on the similarities they find in games and learning. For example, by implementing gamification the L2 learner could think of him or her as a player looking forward to complete a level. If this is translated to the psycho-pedagogical aspect, the learner will be moving forward after successfully completing a unit, module, or task and the language learning is assessed through a variety of game like experiences [4; 409]. Moving Educational Gamification into the L2 learning process lets the instructor plan instruction using a gamified shared vision, along with an increase in the time dedicated to the learning tasks and in the level of difficulty, in this case fluency towards the language approach. By following this, learners become more engaged and motivated. In addition, motivation increases in a gamified instructional environment when the learner performance is publicly recognized through a reward system of prizes/awards [5; 667]. In the case of gamification in L2 and when badges are implemented, its use serves as a motivational tool and can become a form of formative assessment along with developing a higher classroom setting standards for the challenges that the learner presents while in the quest of achieving fluency in L2 [6]. An analog example of a reward system was when the teacher publicly recognized a student by giving him/her a golden star. The use of badges or another reward-gamified system should motivate the students in more competitive tasks, for example creating a research paper, and should never substitute to be exempt of a test. If this occurs the real learning process can be affected [7; 487].

Figure 1 represents educational gamification five step model proposed by Huang and Soman that is important for our practical part. In order to apply gamification, regardless of the course, to the teaching and learning process series of steps are need to be followed. These will guide the instructor to plan accordingly the gamification aspect. In order to gamify instruction, the educators follow a five-step model. This model is presented in an image below from the work of Huang and Soman [8; 18].

In order to deal with step one, Understanding the Target Audience and the Context, the instructor needs to know who his or her students are. A combination of the target audience is necessary along with analysing the context to understand several kefactors like group size, environment, skills sequence, and length. It is in this step that the «pain points» appear. Those pain points are several factors that prevent the learner advancement of the program. There are some common pain points in education: focus, motivation, skills, pride, learning environment and nature of the course, and physical, mental and emotional factors. By understanding these points, the educator will be ready to determine the gamification elements to implement.

Defining Learning Objectives, step two, is always necessary for a successful teaching and learning experience. These objectives need to have general instructional goals, specific learning goals, and behavioral goals. In order to have a successful learning experience through gamification the instructor needs to have the ability of combining and implementing the learning objectives.

Step three of the five-step model, Structuring the Experience, looks to breadown the program and identifies the main points. In this stage the instructor prepares the sequence and quantifies what the student needs to learn and achieve by the end of each stage. If students are staying behind, the instructor needs to rethink and provide a push for motivation in order to complete the stage. The educatoneeds to move his edu-

 

cational program from simple to complex by starting with easier milestones so that the student stays engaged and motivated.

As seen in the figure above, Identifying Resources is step four of this model. At the moment the stages have been identified, the teacher will have complete assurance of which stage can or can't be gamified. The instructor needs to reflect in regards to several aspects that need to be considered. These are: tracking mechanisms, currency, levels, rules, and feedback. The last step of Huang and Soman model is Applying Gamification Elements. In this step the educator decides which gamification elements should be applied. The elements are divided in self and social. Self-elements most of the time use badges, levels and time restrictions. They focus on making students compete with themselves and recognize self- achievement. Meanwhile, interactive competitions along with cooperation are seen as social elements. Within this type of element that students' achievements are made public and the students become a part of a community.

By following the previous steps, educators will have the opportunity for strategic planning which can become a heaven of educational creativity towards the teaching and learning process. There is a plenty of activities that educators can implement through Educational Gamification. These activities can be transferred toward L2 instruction. Some might include the use of online educational games, best guess, rewards system, badges, use of Nintendo WII or Xbox and the Internet for plenty of educational digital game based activities, and combining social platforms and social education platforms where badges and progression can be located and seen. All of the previous are focus on engaging the learner in healthy competition.

Nowadays, one key essential need for the learners is to be motivated and that is the core that moves gamification. Through the use of game elements like avatars, badges, leaderboards, progress charts, among other learners will receive an extra input, similar to the one they have in console games that will motivate them to achieve another educational task or even learn a second language.

Motivational Implications between Gamification and Second Language Learning Personality factors influence dramatically the L2 learning process. Brown presents several of these and suggests that they contribute positive in successfully learning L2. These factors include: the Affective Domain, Self-Esteem, Inhibition, Risk-Taking, Anxiety, Empathy, Extroversion, Myers-Briggs Character Types, and Motivation. The common denominator between L2 learning or SLA and gamification is Motivation. According to Shcunk, Pintrich, and Meece, motivation is the psychological process responsible for initiating and continuing goal directed behaviors. It is frequently demonstrated by an individual choice to engage in an activity and the intensity of effort or persistence in the activity [9; 4]. There are two types of motivation that are essential in L2 learning and are considered personality factors. These are Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivation. But before explaining these two clusters it is necessary to understand three motivational concepts that were part of significant studies in L2 learning that will contribute to enhance the motivational aspects and work with gamification. These are: instrumental, integrative and assimilative motivation. The studies conducted by Gardener and Lambert and demonstrated by Brown, presented instrumental and integrative motivation.

Instrumental motivation refers to motivation acquiring a language as means for attaining instrumental goals: furthering a career, reading technical material, translation, and so forth. On another hand, integrative motivation is employed when learners wish to integrate themselves within the culture of L2 group to identify themselves with and become part of society [10]. Another scholar who established a definition towards motivation and L2 learning was Graham. He was able to define assimilative motivation as the drive to become an indistinguishable member if the speech community and it usually requires prolonged contact with the second language culture. Assimilative motivation is a characteristic of people at a very young age, who learn a second language and second culture [11].

Turning back to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, when people are intrinsically motivated they tend to take an activity for their own sake, for the enjoyment it provides, the learning it permits, or the feeling of accomplishments it evokes. On another hand, when people become extrinsically motivated, they obtain some reward or avoid punishment [12; 289]. Gamification combines these two types of motivation [13; 323]. In addition, the game elements will adjust greatly for the L2 learner. For example, by using extrinsic rewards, like levels, points, and badges to improve engagement while intrinsically motivating towards the achievement, mastery, autonomy, and sense of belonging. In addition, competition, social interaction, and cooperation the second language learner becomes motivated.

Instructors find a gap between what they were experienced in school in the mid to late 20th century and the experiences of students entering college nowadays. This generation, born in the 1990s and known as the Games Generation, Generation Me, or Generation Y, interacts so differently with the world than the generations that came before, even including the Millennial Generation caught between X and Y, born1980–1989, though these dates are disputed. According to the Beloit College, the class of 2016 entering college freshmen has always lived in cyberspace, addicted to a new generation of «electronic narcotics» [14]: Yes, these children might be considered lucky, surrounded by technology that previous generations not only dreamed of, but also worked hard to bring to life. However, in the United States, this influx of almost universal access to technology has marked this generation in a way the previous generations must work to understand. The technology that has always been available to the Games Generation continues to change the way humans think about the world. It is clear that if this technology has changed our lives as adults, it has almost rewired this younger generation to think differently than previous generations.

A YouTube® video illustrates how this rewiring of the human brain works. The video shows a one- year-old baby who is familiar with an iPad® functions. As far as she knows, when she touches the screen, things move. She understands how to scroll through the different screens and how to zoom in and out through pinching her fingers on the tablet. She is then given a magazine, but when she touches this «iPad», it does not work. Nothing moves. She looks to her parents filming and shows her finger while babbling in baby talk as if asking whether her finger is broken. She even checks to make sure her finger is not broken but finds that she can still use her fingers. Why then does not the magazine work? The clip ends with a message from one of her parents: «For my 1-year-old daughter, a magazine is an iPad® that does not work. It will remain so for her whole life. Steve Jobs has coded a part of her OS» [15]. The change in how children think is apparent in the learning capabilities of a child who cannot talk yet. This situation is not an isolated incident. Students now learn differently than students did even a generation ago. The problem is instructors' use «…yesterday's education for tomorrow students. Where is the programming, the genomics, the bioethics, the nanotech—the stuff of their time? It's not there. Not even once a week on Fridays». Teachers of all levels of education risk losing the interest of students when the choice of curriculum falls short of student need. Educators must start looking at how students learn, and why learning occurs.

Gamification is a strategy that employs game mechanics, techniques, and theory in areas that traditionally do not function like a game. The word can be traced back as early as 2004, but the concept goes back further. The boy scouts, sports, and the military uses forms gamification, in which a person can gain a «lev- el» or rank when successfully completing enough tasks. New and digital ranking takes shape in gamified apps like Foursquare, in which a «player» is able to earn points, badges, and «mayorship» of businesses, homes, and other points of interest by letting friends and companies know that they are «checked in». Facebook®, which is one of the largest continually used collections of gamified applications, has the Words with Friends application that maintains 7.3 million daily users [16]. Applications like these improve mundane tasks, by making them not only more likely to get done, but also enjoyable while being simple, pervasive, and easy to use. Apps like Chore Wars and Epic Win help encourage people to finish daily and tedious chores. Players experience internal motivation when completing tasks because the tasks are low-risk. Games are low-risk because players are not just doing, they are having fun. Games are plays, and play is a primeval education technology. Play differs across cultures, but collectively culture is inundated by play, because play and culture are actually interwoven. Even animals play as a way to teach offspring survival techniques. Play allows humans and other creatures to master skills, concepts, and conflict resolution without deadly consequences. In fact, some of the largest growth experienced in the early human experience is centered on play, and «… games often do a better job of teaching than decontextualized, skill-and-drill instruction». As children's age, they are introduced to specific acts of play that encourage physical or mental growth. Playing with blocks is thought to lead to learning about: the physical properties of objects, hand-eye coordination, cause and effect, object permanence, and specific concepts related to shape and gravity. Humans learn how to survive through fun or play. Play can be deferred or suspended at any time, allowing for play and education to make way for more pressing needs. More specifically, games are plays with rules and limits that help to define play from other parts of reality.

Gaming industry is responsible for 25.1 billion dollars of revenue each year. A consumer not only buys games, which is where he spends majority of the money, he also buys the platforms and accessories. Part of the reason that the gaming industry commands so much money from the economy is now marketed towards both men and women, young and old. Families also play together, meaning that games influence entire households. Mobile gaming has also expanded how we interact with games. As a new handheld platform, cell phones allow for constant connectivity not only to social networks, but also to games. For example, 65 percent of the 2 billion apps downloaded are games, reports Apple app store. What motivates someone to play a game, whether video, computer, board or others? People do not play games for the thrill of beatingHalo 4 or Skyrim, but rather for the experience each game creates: an adrenaline rush, a vicarious adventure, a mental challenge.

As the rules separate play from reality, one thing is for sure. Games are different from ordinary life. This is sometimes through simulation in which a game takes on a portion of real life, and distorts or changes it. Games are generally simple concepts that follow simple sets of rules that regulate game play. Those rules show players correct behavior through feedback of either success or failure. A well-built game is, in essence, a series of short-term feedback loops, delivering assessment in small, frequent doses. Unlike most institutional learning systems, games associate learning with fun and allow for trial and error (basically the freedom to make mistakes) [17]. Gaming works because players do not fear failure. Even death is just a minor setback in the course of a game. In games, failure presents an opportunity for improvement/adjustment to player behavior. Players can make multiple attempts at a quest, fight or engagement, with low risk to the fun or motivation of the player. This low-risk failure changes learning from a short-term to a long-term endeavor, in which mastery is the end result, not scores. By adopting a gamified mind-set, learning returns to its historical function, allowing students to learn through low-risk fun, which increases participation. The participation increases in subtle ways as the general population becomes more enthralled with all things gamified.

Gamification is so rich in possibilities because gamers of all skill levels happily work hard and rely on internal motivation to complete game-like tasks. However, motivation is just one of the components that make gaming successful, potentially productive, and ever evolving. Gamers are willing to work, as long as this work challenges them in some way, because, in a game, players (learners) will endure frustration and challenges that in other situations would cause them to give up [18].

This challenging play/work is more fun and healthier for people than entertainment. While watching TV can be relaxing, watching large amounts stops being fun, and quickly drains personal resources, such as happiness and stamina. In order to understand the hard best, yet satisfying, play/work found in games, it breaks down in the following ways: high stakes/hard work, busy work, mental work, physical work, discovery work, team work, and creative work. Perhaps the hardest to understand this is why hard work is a beneficial mechanism of games. High stakes, or hard work, is a type of work that players easily find in video games. A player might experience fantastic success, but she/he might also fail spectacularly. Part of what makes games fun is the challenge that a game presents to the body and mind of a player in ways that are not monotonous and that are not so hard that she becomes discouraged. A player enjoys this work when he is down to his last health bar, surrounded by enemies, relying on skill, and a little luck to get his past the zombies, monsters, or bad guys without dying. If he dies, death occurs because of overwhelming odds, but if he succeeds he becomes a goddess of gaming. Problems such as numerous deaths on a single quest, or slow feedback make the game too challenging and not fun. Game designers must balance quests to be challenging, without being impossible for a new player or monotonous for an experienced player. When the high stakes work becomes too overwhelming, a gamer can seek out busy work, sometimes within the same game. Busy work keeps the mind entertained but with minimal effort, even though busy work sounds like a bad thing. After all, many adults can remember being given coloring activities, repetitive math sheets or crosswords by an elementary school teacher as work to keep busy while the teacher struggled to address the needs of the entire class. However, busy work is meaningful and necessary. Unlike watching television, busy work still adds to happiness because busy work is easy fun. Games encourage easy and fun completion of tasks allowing for quick feedback and easy turnover [19]. It is common to find mental and physical work separately, but each function is best when combined together. Mental work is found in strategy games like Risk or Settlers of Catan, or quiz-based games like Trivial Pursuit, in which the thrill of a correct answer or a winning strategy stimulates the brain. Brain training games like Big Brain Academy or the website Luminosity are just as popular and claim to make you smarter and more mentally fit. Physical work, also known as exertion games, stimulates the body instead of the mind and causes the body to rush endorphins to the brain in games such as Dance Central 2, Kinect Adventures, or Dance Revolution. Players feel good from playing not only physically, but have the feeling of fun. Combining the mental and physical work leads to deeper learning for hands- on learners. Paintball or laser tag combines mental and physical work, as players use both body and mind to navigate the course and formulate a strategy to win. Sports are also a historical example wherein physical and mental work meets as sports are physically invigorating and mentally stimulating which contributes to player happiness. Happiness also increases when a player discovers something new. Many gaming situations incorporate an element of exploration. Exploring in a game gives a gamer the experience and thrill of discovery. As players fly around as a superhero in DC Universe, they discover new cities as well as new perspectives that players cannot easily find in real life. The new environments, especially when not filled withhostile creatures or humanoids, offer a real opportunity for a player to gaze in wonder in a virtual world. Computer technology simulates new territories to explore, to conquer, and to settle that would be otherwise impossible.

Many video games offer ways of exploring, where players can fly, ride or walk around a new world that gives them some insight into the world map. While traditional video games offer one way of exploring, Foldit uses the strength of human discovery to find patterns in proteins that are linked to AIDS. According to the Foldit website, humans recognize patterns in proteins and learn to fold them differently, much faster than a computer. Gamers contribute to the collective understanding of cancer and Alzheimer's. As players work together they experience the thrill of teamwork and, more importantly, success.

School, work, and play require individuals to work together in order to succeed. Teamwork requires players to contribute to and collaborate with a group, as well as socialize with others. Players play games for relaxation, fulfillment of social needs or for excitement. As many gamers can attest, unlike the «real world», «within these groupings, players can communicate easily, meet, support one another, and share resources». The sense of community changes how a person interacts with a game and how a game interacts with a person. People enjoy contributing to a larger cause, even if that cause works towards a mutual virtual end.

EQ2 has raids in which up to 24 players work together to complete larger tasks that would be impossible to complete with a single player. As part of a raid group players bond not only as a team, but also as a family. Groups learn each individual's strengths and weaknesses, as well as learn how to deal with undesirable traits. Virtual teamwork gives the satisfaction of gaming and live teamwork that is hard to find in the «re- al world». People are able to enter into friendly competition within a game and have that competition stay within the space of the game. When players can experience failure or success in teamwork in a low-stakes situation, they transfer the abilities and concepts into a «real world» situation. Games and actions that fall within a virtual realm rely on teamwork via social interaction or networking. Creative work also has transferable qualities that make it valuable to both players and non-players.

Creative work allows players to feel capable, and is necessary for humans to thrive. Players can manifest creativity in the creation of a backstory for a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG), the singing of karaoke in Sing Star, or the wailing on a guitar during Guitar Hero or Rockband. A Michigan University study found that children who play video games have higher creativity inside and outside the game instances. So, not only creative work functions within a game, creativity affects how students behave in the «real world». In fact, role-playing games like EQ2 are not so far from a child's make-believe on the playground. Creative work, such as role-playing, can be further justified by the greater degree of freedom of experimentation with explicit and implicit rules which are available in RPGs than in the usual organizational realities [20]. Just as with the other kinds of work, creative work makes a space where players have the ability and comfort to succeed and fail creatively without any embarrassment or humiliation. All of these kinds of work enhance the internal motivation that many gamers experience.

In games, players are motivated internally more than externally, however in other areas of life individuals must rely on external or extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation comes from a source outside of oneself. Sometimes resources like money, shelter, and food to live are a necessary external motivation. However, reliance on external motivation in classroom settings actually demotivates students, and 71 percent of the demotivational factors are related to teachers' perceived performance. Grades are another form of extrinsic motivation that has been failing and demotivating students, parents, and teachers for years. The mandatory restrictions the school places upon students cause stress, and when an external source places too much stress upon a person, his/her body starts to combat that stress through emotional responses like anger or escapism. Extrinsic motivation does not contribute to happiness of a person the way intrinsic motivation does.

Internal or intrinsic motivation is a self-rewarding work, meaning that a gamer or student needs nor wants external rewards for the work required. Internal motivation is not changed by the amount or difficulty of work and hard work leads to greater inspiration. The emotions associated with internal motivation are a driving force towards success, as failure or success is partially self-determined. Failure looks different for different situations, such as for school, gaming, social, and relational situations. In an educational situation, students who are internally motivated prove to work harder and longer than those who rely on motivation from grades or teacher praise. This internalized motivation is «inherently constructive and self-directed». Players experience game play, receive feedback, and then reevaluate previous actions to change the outcome. This view of feedback reduces the stress associated with failure and relies on internal motivation to continue going after the feedback process. Internal motivation makes learning, work, chores or anything else that is normally hard not only bearable, but a renewable source of happiness.

Conclusion

Gamification encourages people to rely on internal motivation by making seemingly mundane tasks fun. While a game in an everyday part of life is still a fledgling concept, gamification of life is the way much of our consumer world is heading. Some think that gamification will better contextualize our work and making sure that the theme or setting is psychologically conducive to the activity itself. Kind of like how you go to Disneyworld and everything, down to the trash bins near the line for the rides all fit within the setting and don't break you out of that mindset of enjoying the ride. Games are designed to engage the player as a participant. The insider principle with gaming is by showing that a player is not just a consumer of the game, but also customizes his or her experiences within the game. The idea that a person acts as a participant instead of just a player might help to involve non-players, and those who doubt the purpose of games in everyday life in the concept of gamification. Many areas of life are already being gamified, such as politics, marketing, and even healthcare. Gamification offers distinct advantages when reaching new and younger audiences.

 

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Year: 2019
City: Karaganda
Category: Pedagogy