MAKING GEOPOLITICS FUN WITH TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION
History and Geography, subjects that students try not to hide their contempt they have for them, are traditionally considered as some of the most boring disciplines they have to encounter in their academic programs making this a challenge for any teacher eager to engage a class regarding these fields. Fortunately teachers can rise up to this challenge with the help of technology accompanied by elements of engagement linked to fun and entertainment.
The areas mentioned above are some of the key components of the course of Geopolitics and International Relations, but thanks to the development of institutional policies of incorporation of ICT in the classroom made at University of Ibague, Colombia, in the matters of higher education led by the Center of Innovation in Education (AVACO) we have reached a stage in which we could transform the traditional encyclopedic contents of the subject into a more dynamic and entertainment field that motivates students not only to attend class but also to learn more and go beyond the limits of the traditional assignments.
With this in mind, Geopolitics needed a transformation (or redesign as we call it), that was made thanks to the adoption of several academic trends combined with specific tools in order to establish a warm learning environment for the group.
The transformation was led by the following pillars:
1. Activities had to be simple (at least for the students)
2. They had to be fun,
3. They should make use of the Learning Management System (LMS) we have in the institution (Moodle)
4. The use of the students own devices.
With the pillars already stablished the following strategies were considered:
- The use of augmented reality
- Incorporation of New Moodle modules (games)
- The use of gamification
- Development of Serious Games
- Creation of Virtual Learning Objects
- And use of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) techniques
For instance, augmented reality was used with tools such as Google Goggles and Shazam; using QR codes in order to participate in class answering questions about the theories of International Relations (IR) in the context of a survey and playing and recognizing national anthems in order to link the country with its capital city.
Regarding the new Moodle modules, the use of activities such as Word Search, crosswords, hangman and Millionaire games to check concepts, but there are many more examples regarding Gamification, serious games, Virtual Learning Objects and BYOD which were also used quite frequently in order to maintain the dynamic of the course.
At the end of the semester a final survey was developed in order to evaluate the perception of the students with regards to the activities, the methodology and the teacher himself, the results reflect the positive results hinted in the development of the activities while in class.
The total of the course expressed that they feel they learned better through the use of games and technology in the class, and the results of the final evaluation show that the original objective of building enduring understandings prevailed and it is unavoidable to feel quite proud of the students’ achievements as well as the teacher’s outcomes, however, being humans, as incomplete as we are, there is always space for improving and thanks to the sharing of this experiences is that we got the necessary feedback to grow even more, because we never stop learning and making learning fun is the best thing we can do as teachers.