Story-Telling, Gamification, and Videogames: A Case Study to Teach English as a Second Language

Story-Telling, Gamification, and Videogames: A Case Study to Teach English as a Second Language

Veronica Membrive, Madalina Armie
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4670-3.ch007
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The educational use of gamification in class has been widely explored by research. Theorizations establish a direct relationship between gamification and higher levels of motivation and engagement of students regardless of their educational levels. When teaching English as a second language, gamification becomes a key factor to provide dynamism to lessons and to foster the consolidation of the content taught in class. Moreover, gamification not only promotes the assimilation of vocabulary and grammar, but also the improvement of oral and written comprehension and production. The extensive use of new technologies in class has proved to be very useful for the implementation of the methodology on gamification. One of the tools that has attracted the attention of educators recently is Classcraft, an online virtual game based on digital storytelling. This chapter aims at explaining and assessing the use of Classcraft as a successful technology-based collaborative learning tool in a course on English as a second language at the university level.
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In recent decades the vertiginous development and spreading of new technologies has altered traditional identities and socio-cultural practices, and consequently has affected both the personal sphere—in aspects such as lifestyle, education and work—and the social one, by changing the terms of human interaction and behavior.

This transformation is possible due the creation of environments that challenge distance and time with the immediate availability of information and instant communication despite possible physical remoteness. Therefore, new dimensions where borders between the virtual and physical spaces are porous and that acknowledge no limit are created. This new era is frequently referred to as the “digital age”, “information age”, or “technoculture”(Hand, 2016, p. 4),, and for it “digitality can be thought of as a marker of culture because it encompasses both the artefacts and the systems of signification and communication that most clearly demarcate our contemporary way of life from others” (Gere, 2012, p. 12). The digitalization of our world is ubiquitous; therefore, the teaching field also finds itself under continuous strain for innovation answering transformations affecting classrooms everywhere.

Despite being capable, due to their demotivation, whether caused by external or internal factors, students of today might lack the necessary training that enables them to function as adults in tomorrow’s society, face the requirements of a highly skilled job market and the staunch competence required in a given professional role. Certain subjects become sources of frustration where low motivation regularizes and defines the outcomes of the learning process. In an attempt to solve existent problems of the schooling system, theorizations on the learner and motivation in the classroom attempt to go beyond the traditional classifications of the latter as intrinsic and extrinsic, and its valuation in terms of social and emotional conditionings. By investigating students’ engagement in the classroom, and by highlighting the apparent obsolescence and ineffectiveness of traditional schooling approaches (Lee & Hammer, 2011), a connection can be observed between these mentioned elements and problems of levels of cheating, disengagement from school, and with this, higher attrition rates. All things considered then, teaching a second language nowadays requires creativity, a great number of attractive resources, and distinctive approaches that attempt to intermingle old methodologies and new techniques that must be appealing for the learner who is placed at the centre of the learning process, and whose profile, of course, has changed too.

The new generations of children and adolescents inhabiting this world “have not just changed incrementally from those of the past, nor simply changed their slang, clothes, body adornments, or styles, as has happened between generations previously. A really big discontinuity has taken place. One might even call it a ‘singularity’” (Prensky, 2001, p. 2). At the very root of this uniqueness or disruption mentioned by the author as being typical of the new generations is the fact that these youngsters are “digital natives”, entire generations that “have spent their entire lives surrounded by and using computers, video games, digital music players, video cams, cell phones, and all the other toys and tools of the digital age” (Prensky, 2001, p. 1a). Contemplating all these aspects, digital literacy becomes almost a necessity “to be added to school curricula and even for new pedagogies that incorporate computer games” (Peterson, Verenikina and Herrington, 2008), together with other traditional subjects, such as mathematics, history, English, etc.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Playful Elements: The Components belonging to the gamified experience.

Gamification: The process of introducing the mechanism and design of games in non-gamified experiences or contexts as an incentive to foment motivation, engagement, organizational productivity, learning, etc.

Methodology: The system of procedures used in order to attain set objectives.

Motivation: A bi-dimensional force since it can imply desire or aversion toward an experience. It is conditioned intrinsically, by internal factors related to the individual, and extrinsically, by external factors acting on the individual.

Classcraft: An educational virtual digital game based on digital storytelling where teacher and students can interact. It was created in 2013 by Shawn Young.

Computer-Based Learning: CBL. Any kind of learning that involves the use of the interactive elements of computer applications and software.

ESL: English as a second language.

Edutainment: The English term resulting from the blending of the words educational and entertainment. In 1954 by Walt Disney introduced the word edutainment for the first time. Edutainment insists upon the incidental learning of content through play and it is used in different fields such as academia, corporations, governments in order to disseminate content and information.

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