Going to school can be very boring for students, what if technology could make it more interesting by supplementing the learning experience? Samuel Chu, Associate Professor at The University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Education, is an expert in gamification and problem-based learning.
“Students can learn things closer to real life and not from book knowledge, so things are more authentic. You need to excite students and help them build their abilities,” says Professor Chu. An example of this is “Reading Battle”, an educational tool developed by Professor Chu and the HKU Faculty of Education to inspire young people to improve their reading.
The concept is simple but effective - kids read books online and then enter a “battle” by answering questions about the book they just read. If students answer incorrectly they will get a hint. Correct answers allow them to save the lives of characters in the game, gain a higher ranking among global users, and earn rewards such as badges.
Adding a fun way of learning to the standard textbooks and classroom learning, the new generation of millennial parents are also receptive to using gamification technology, meaning their adoption is more accepted overall. “Students don’t feel like the game is doing homework, but having fun. Thousands of students have spent their valuable spare time on my game. We turned studying, something not regarded as entertaining, into a game that gives students lots of satisfaction as everyone can win,” says Professor Chu.
The HKU professor has no doubt gamification of education will only get bigger as it assists both classic education and ethics teaching. “It helps students learn more happily. We don’t want students to only learn knowledge, I’m most happy when young people tell us they learnt to become a better person,” Professor Chu adds.
Gamification allows students the ability to visualise real life scenarios, much like Aerosim’s flight simulator training or Motive Force’s realistic virtual reality cube. This fosters an interest in lifelong learning, where kids are encouraged to keep learning after they have finished their secondary and tertiary schooling. It also adds a vivid way to learn other subjects that could be seen as taboo and sensitive such as sex education.
“For students with special needs, or those who are less capable in language, communication and presentation skills, gamification can be a great way to learn. For example, Special Educational Needs (SEN) children can visualise their ideas and this also improves their presentation skills,” says Victor Cheng Pat-leung, Executive Director of Hong Kong Education City (HKEdCity). This reflects the fact that technology in general helps these students convey ideas more effectively, breaking the barriers that came in the past.