Adam, who lectures in both the Information Systems and Technology and MBChB programmes at UKZN, is completing his master’s degree.
His seminar explored the potential of technology, gamification and active pedagogy to enhance teaching and learning in Higher Education. ‘Approaching your courses using gamification and other active pedagogical approaches involves repackaging and presenting your courses in a manner that engages and motivates your students,’ said Adam. ‘This is different from redesigning an entire course.’
Gamification, the integration of game design, game mechanics and game dynamics into real-world contexts to motivate behaviour, enables academics to integrate the motivational elements of games such as points, badges and leaderboards (PBLs) into the classroom. To illustrate the motivational power of games, Adam cited the example of students going to the extent of sacrificing sleep and dedicating hours to play games whilst barely engaging in the classroom. ‘Remember, the core objective of gamification is enhancing motivation and not PBLs,’ he cautioned.
Adam also reflected, through the lens of the Activated Classroom Teaching (ACT) approach, on the possibilities of adopting active pedagogy in the classroom. This approach, developed by Dr Craig Blewett of the College of Law and Management Studies, aims to enhance students’ learning by moving them beyond consumption to curation, conversation, correction and ultimately creation of knowledge.
To explain this, Adam cited the example of lecturers sharing video content with students which is more commonly used to expose students to scenarios otherwise not possible. Whilst this undoubtedly has immense benefit, adoption of active pedagogies requires that lecturers design activities which see students developing their own videos on a particular topic.
‘When we challenge students to develop their own content, they must critique and interrogate their own knowledge (and that of peers) before they can offer it to the world. This approach also results in the production of an artefact which has further learning benefits. We have witnessed the powerful benefits to student learning when adopting this approach in our courses,’ said Adam.
Reflecting on the fact that technology does occasionally encounter glitches, Adam said students were forgiving by nature. ‘They will tell you what works and what doesn’t. The key is to work collaboratively with students and accept that technology is part of the solution – the human touch is still at the core.’