Mamta Thakur, CEO (ASEAN), Arc Skills

Mamta Thakur, CEO (ASEAN), Arc Skills, brings to the table 23 years of global experience in managing and developing the workforces of 17 African countries and several others from South-East Asia, India, Dubai, and the UK. Her initiative is to drive employability by evolving the unemployed population with the help of industry partners. Mamta aims to achieve this continuous and sustainable development system that will help countries generate valid skill sets to support industry requirements for skilled resources and to curb future unemployment. She is a true visionary who constantly fights the good fight to leave the world a better place than she found it.

Technological disruptions are continually and rapidly altering the demand for skills in the future. To merely keep pace with the volume and veracity of these disruptions, there is a need for teaching approaches that encourage individuals to develop a range of both technical and innately human skills, like empathy, critical thinking, the ability to combine creativity, analytical and digital skills, not just technological skills. It is about cultivating the full range of skills, from the creative to the complex cognitive capabilities that the future workforce will need. Current education and corporate learning systems are not equipped to address the coming revolution in skills demand. The challenge is especially urgent for roles that are more vulnerable to dislocation through intelligent automation.

This challenge can be solved by focusing more on: (1) Learning with experiential techniques, (2) learning tailored to individual needs and (3) empowering the “least ready people” to learn at their own pace.

One approach which is proving to be increasingly successful in achieving all three objectives is Gamification, i.e., the use of game design and mechanics to enhance non-game contexts by increasing participation, engagement, loyalty and competition. These methods can include points, leaderboards, direct competitions and stickers or badges.

In the field of learning, Gamification makes education immersive and hands-on by making learners active participants, not passive recipients of knowledge. Progressive schools use project-based and team-based gamification to engage children by making education more active and effortful. When learning is active and effortful, the brain forms new connections more easily, according to Washington University professors of psychology and brain sciences, Henry Roediger and Mark McDaniel. They also found that students learn more when they are forced to solve a problem rather than being taught the solution. Making and correcting mistakes also improves skills retention. All made must more feasible through Gamification.

Gamification is not about merely using technology (say audio-visual aides, or video games) for learning. Gamification can be equally effectively be executed in non-digital learning environments, as long as key elements of games are incorporated, e.g.: Progress mechanics (points/badges/leaderboards), Characters/Avatars and Storytelling, Player control, Immediate feedback, Opportunities for collaborative problem solving, Scaffolded learning with increasing challenges and opportunities for leveling up through mastery.

When a classroom incorporates the use of some of these elements, that environment can be considered “gamified”. A system of game elements that operates in the classroom is explicit and consciously experienced by the students in the classroom. Teachers don’t attempt to coerce or trick students into doing something. Students make their own choices to participate in learning activities. Because Games, in any form, increase motivation through engagement.

One big reason Gamification works in Education is because through this approach, student learn to “Connect, Collaborate and Compete” at the same time. Not only do they get the freedom to fail and try again without negative repercussions, and learn in a more fun and joyous environment, but they also pick up relevant life skills like “working with others, without becoming dependent on them”.

To make all these benefits come to life, educators can use a variety of ways to introduce gamification into the classroom. For starters, instead of marks in a subject, pupils can be given “Experience Points”. The big difference between marks and Experience Points is that marks are scored on the basis of one test at a time, while Experience Points can be accumulated by repeatedly performing the activity until the pupil succeeds. Failing once does not stop you from gaining experience points if you are willing to make more attempts at completing the task at hand. The objective of education should be imparting knowledge, skill, and application, which comes through repeated effort, not just one test. Other gaming elements like unique rewards (e.g. Anyone who scores above 75 marks can decide how the next class will be taught) increase engagement, and consequently motivation.

At the same time, despite all its advantages, gamification is not a silver bullet to solve all issues in front of educators. Afterall, intrinsic motivation for learning must not be entirely replaced by external motivators like badges. Also, the use of gamification, if not done with proper thought, may appear less serious than the traditional approach and directing the energies of pupils in such a perceivably non-serious environment may present a bit of a challenge. And of course, gamification requires greater effort and time involvement on part of the educator (especially those who do not have full digital support infrastructure).

In conclusion, I urge educators to be creative and respond to student interests. Use gamification judiciously to make learning fun and engaging. While your students will be collecting points, leveling up, and competing (and collaborating) with each other, you will be collecting data, tracking progress, and tailoring the rules, rewards, and quests to build positive class culture while pushing student achievement. When teachers and students play together, the school will be a game worth playing.

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