Mobile Gamification Tools for Foreign Language Teaching in Higher Education

Mobile Gamification Tools for Foreign Language Teaching in Higher Education

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-8861-4.ch001
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Gamification has gained popularity in recent decades as an effective approach to enhancing student engagement and motivation in various fields, including foreign language teaching. Mobile gamification tools have been identified as a promising avenue for incorporating game elements into language learning, as they enable students to access learning materials and participate in interactive activities anytime and anywhere. This chapter provides an overview of the literature on mobile gamification tools for foreign language teaching in higher education. The review focuses on the benefits and challenges of using mobile gamification tools in language learning, the types of tools available, and the factors that influence their effectiveness. In addition, the paper presents examples of successful implementations of mobile gamification tools in language classrooms and discusses the pedagogical implications of using these tools.
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Information and Communication Technologies offer new possibilities to create engaging contexts for learning. Especially, mobile technologies have increasingly become a mainstream tool among students. Educational institutions have endorsed mobile applications in order to attract young learners who are more accustomed to, or even expect this type of interactivity (Pachler et al., 2010). According to Klopfer (2008), accessing updated information, promoting active and participatory learning, personalized learning, promoting mobility in education, increasing distribution of educational content, and increased interaction during learning are the befits of using mobile devises in education. Due to ubiquitous feature, smart phones may support a range of pedagogical approaches (Pegrum et al., 2013). They are particularly suitable for the application of constructivist approaches, centered on the active and collaborative student (Sharples et al., 2009). As Klopfer (2008) highlights, when used to their full potential, smart phones can be transformed into language learning laboratories. Therefore, mobile devices such as smart phones, tablets, and personal computers are powerful devices for learning anytime and anywhere due to their portability and connectivity features in addition to social interactivity (Klopfer, 2008). These characteristics of the mobile devices may allow teachers to use them in their teaching context. Mobile devices can be utilized to employ gamified applications for teaching and learning process. Therefore, gamification on mobile devices has received much attention especially in both educational institutions and marketing industry. Gamification can be defined as the utilization of game design techniques, game thinking and game mechanics to enhance non-game context (Nicholson, 2015).

The term “gamification” was first coined in 2008 by Nick Pelling, a British computer programmer and inventor. However, the concept of using game-like elements in non-game contexts dates back to the 1980s when marketers started using loyalty programs and reward systems to incentivize customer behavior (Kapp, 2012). In the early 2000s, researchers and practitioners began exploring the potential of gamification as a strategy to enhance user engagement and motivation in various domains, including education, healthcare, and workplace management. The emergence of mobile devices, social media, and big data also contributed to the rapid growth of gamification as a popular and effective approach to behavior change.

Gamification involves applying game mechanics and dynamics to non-game situations, even in contexts that are not traditionally associated with playfulness, such as education (Deterding, Dixon, Khaled, & Nacke, 2011; Innocenti, 2021). It involves using game design elements, mechanics, and principles in non-game contexts to motivate and engage students to achieve desired behaviors, tasks, or goals (Deterding, Dixon, Khaled, & Nacke, 2011). In general, gamification is seen as the application of game(s), allowing game players (e.g., users, learners) to understand a situation, acquire knowledge, and learn skills through the interplay of games. Studies show that gamification can increase motivation and learning. (Deterding, Dixon, Khaled & Nacke, 2011; Hamari, Koivisto, & Sarsa, 2014; Werbach, 2014). It is not just about playing games. But it is the use of game thinking and mechanics in a non-game context to engage employees and students in the learning process (Landers et al. 2015).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Gamification: Gamification is the use of game design elements, mechanics, and principles in non-game contexts to motivate and engage people to achieve desired behaviors, tasks, or goals.

Mobile Tool: A mobile tool, also known as a mobile application or app, is a software program designed to run on mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, or smartwatches.

Game: A game is a structured activity or form of play that is undertaken for enjoyment, entertainment, or competition.

Foreign Language: A foreign language is a language that is not the native language of a particular speaker or community, but rather is learned as a second or additional language.

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