Diaconia University of Applied Sciences (FINLAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2016 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 4066-4075
ISBN: 978-84-608-5617-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2016.1989
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
The aim of this design research was to focus on gamification elements in a pilot blended learning English course for healthcare students at the Diaconia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki, Finland. Gamification as use of game design element for non-game context has successfully gained ground in business and marketing, but in education its application is a growing trend.

In teaching one of the priorities is to find positive and fun factors that trigger and drive students to learn and practise a language. When designing the pilot, the starting points were besides the set curriculum, enhancing the 21st century skills, using versatile devices in multimodal blended learning context as well as supporting individual learning paths of students with heterogeneous language competences and learning skills.

The 3-credit field-specific pilot English course was offered for 1st-year healthcare students. The duration of the course was 15 weeks including 5 face-to-face sessions and 2 AC sessions. According to the curriculum, the objectives of the course are to enhance students’ professional language competence both in oral and written interaction, both being assessed separately after the course. The students were provided with iPads, but the university’s learning platform as well as used pedagogical applications allow different devices.

By implementing gamification in a language course, the target was to improve student engagement and participation. This for one enhances the learner ownership and finally improves the learning outcome. Immediate feedback on assignments is also essential, since it creates the students a sense of empowerment and encouragement after succeeding. Furthermore, gamification is one tool to increase collaboration and interaction between the students. Game design fosters through both individual or group participation creativity as well as awakens emotions and motion. In addition, playfulness brings fun elements in learning.

In the planning of the gamified part of the course, a narrative was created to lead the students into a field-specific hospital setting to simulate work-life. In the task design the Octalysis tool was utilised to foster different drives; furthermore, a balance between versatile player profile driven tasks was endeavoured.

The main gamified platform was the game board called seppo. The incorporated assignments were pair tasks which in the pilot phase were conducted in-class with the teacher in charge. In the initial phase the benefit was to provide the teacher with instant feedback on appropriateness of the tasks, and the students with technological and language support. Other used game applications were Kahoot, Quizlet, EDpuzzle, Padlet as well as the traditional play Simon says promoting kinesthetic learning.

The future development of the course will focus on strengthening the game elements, increasing variety concerning time-consumption, competitiveness with both collaborative and individual tasks allowing also virtual attendance. Badges, as well as mystery tasks and different levels will be incorporated, and there will be a greater emphasis on self- and peer assessment. Student feedback, the students’ learning diaries and teacher reflection on the course form the basis of which the course will be developed. The learning outcomes will be evaluated and analysed after piloting.
Gamification, engagement, language learning.