Amit Agrawal, Founder, CEO and Director, OckyPocky

Amit Agrawal is the CEO and Founder at OckyPocky, India’s first interactive learning app for kids. At the innovative start-up that uses cutting-edge technologies like NLP and AI to devise a self-paced learning program for kids, Amit primarily spearheads the culture, strategy and fundraising aspects of the business. Having completed his Maths Hons from St. Stephens College and MBA from IIM Bangalore, Amit went on to chart a stellar career graph with highly successful stints at Infosys and YouTube. In a conversation with the Higher Education Digest, Amit Agrawal talks about the impact of gamification on higher education, how to implement courses with gamification elements, and much more.

 

What is the impact of gamification on higher education?

One often hears how people lose interest in their favorite subjects when it comes to higher degrees – there is a dire need to make the curriculum more fun and application orientated.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has altered how the Indian Education system works. In a short period, Education has progressed to the point where textbooks, teachers, and classroom-based learning, which were earlier the primary medium of learning, are no longer sufficient. Learners of this age need more personalized, fun, and engaging content and gamification appears to be the right tool to do this.

Gamification is based on the idea that learners learn best when they are also having fun. It encourages and boosts the motivation of the students by using positive, game-based feedbacks like points, badges, leaderboards, progression, etc., thus making information more interesting for today’s learners.

In the absence of classrooms, gamification of educational content has helped educators in engaging their students from distance, which is a huge leap in itself. Besides evoking the desire to learn, gamification has shown an increase in engagement, participation, and facilitating healthy competition, resulting in learners paying much closer attention to what they are being taught.

While a regular classroom is constrained by the physical authority of teachers and boundary walls – there is no such thing that works – hence gamification scaled with edtech globally. Now its time to turn the tables and bring it back in a coherent and comprehensive way back to the physical classroom as well.

Different ways that higher education institutions can gamify learning in classrooms

There are various aspects of game-based teaching that make it an effective and practical learning tool even in the classroom. Using storytelling to help students gain a better understanding of what they’re studying and how to put it into practice is one way we can incorporate game elements in educational content.

Another way to use gamification in classrooms is by encouraging teamwork by placing students into groups and having each group compete against one another. The winning group is rewarded with points and level-ups which leaves a sense of accomplishment. This also allows for knowledge sharing, healthy competition, and constructive learning among the teams and helps develop a positive learning environment instilled with the spirit of teamwork.

One of many instances, where gamification helped in increasing students’ learning is that of Dr. Lee Sheldon. Dr. Sheldon began modeling his classroom into a massively multiplayer online game. His students created avatars, formed guilds with classmates, and completed quests to gain experience points. He also made structural changes in his classroom by replacing the rigid, constant syllabus with a more flexible curriculum. Adding these game elements resulted in increased student attendance and the class’s average grade drastically increased from a C to B.

How institutions can implement courses with gamification elements

In Edtech, gamification is a no-brainer. While it is a little complicated to build content that can grab users’ attention for a prolonged period, with a little innovation, institutions may add gamification elements into courses to encourage students to think creatively about what they’re learning.

Gamifying higher education learning can also help bridge the gap between theory and practical knowledge, which is currently the major issue faced by fresh graduates. One way to do this is by putting the students in business simulations or scenario-based games that are based on the dynamics of actual businesses. By doing this, students experience real-world situations and problems, which helps them with the application of what they’re learning in the classroom.

California State University, in collaboration with GetSchooled, lets students earn prizes for learning about campus resources. For instance, students who read about health and stress-management tips can receive a self-care kit filled with a coloring book and other tangible rewards. The program has already shown positive results, and the university hopes that it will help students in developing healthy habits, slowly decreasing the college dropout rates.

Techniques for Gamification in Higher Ed Courses

Various gamification techniques have the potential to reignite students’ enthusiasm for learning. Some of these include:-

Replacing the grading system: Educators can significantly impact learning results by altering their strategy to grade assignments and accumulate scores. Students are more likely to remember the material if grades are replaced with scores. These scores can be provided at each step of learning in a specific topic, making students feel that they’re moving towards different levels of mastery with each test/assignment.

Conducting Quests: One of the smart gamification strategies is to turn each week into a quest in which students earn badges for completion and mastery. This way, students’ achievements are recognized with appropriate badges rather than grades to show that they are more than just academic.

Point-based rewards: Institutions can take gamification rewards to the next level by implementing a point system. The system provides rewards points for behaviors like on-time assignment completion and classroom participation. This encourages students to participate more actively in the classroom and gives them recognition for finishing tasks promptly.

Even at early stage of childhood, Ockypocky kind of products follow a unique approach of weaving gamification into the learning process to make it more enjoyable for children. By utilizing leaderboards, badges, challenges and point-based systems, OckyPocky gives children a sense of accomplishment whenever they learn something valuable. This keeps the child engaged and entertained, all while they build their English vocabulary. Further, we give kids feedback in their mother tongue using AI and NLP-based algorithms, allowing them to acquire and retain the information at a faster rate.

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