Teaching and learning the gamified way
Gamification is an application of game mechanics and game design techniques in learning and teaching (P&P), making the process to be more interesting, interactive and engaging.
This new approach is in line with the aspiration of Higher Education Minister, Dato' Seri Idris Jusoh who had called for the use of flexible, innovative education methods, also known as gamification, in his 2016 New Year speech.
The Minister urged that a new initiative by experts in this area be carried out, with the application of local values and culture in gamification so that this method could be used as an effective teaching and learning tool and to create better understanding of the local values and national identity among people and students.
Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Senior Lecturer of Bahasa Melayu Department, Modern Language and Communication Faculty (FBMK), Assoc. Prof. Dr. Normahdiah Sheik Said said gamification will enable students to resolve tough, difficult problems through the use of game mechanics.
"This will make teaching and learning more interesting, interactive and engaging. Students will have the chance to get that immediate feedback in resolving difficult questions or problems," she said.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Normahdiah is responsible in creating a model for multimedia application "Norma Engagement Multimedia Design Model" (NEMD Model) where various experimental studies were carried out to determine the interaction of children in immersive game-play environment.
The use of NEMD Model in Student-Centred Learning (SCL) not only made students more curious and interested to learn but also left a positive impact on UPM students in the teaching and learning process.
She spent almost five years to complete her research which was carried out in stages and in the end, she succeeded in developing a theory and a module based on some characteristics that could draw the attention of students – the Theory of Engagement Features, called GIFCES (Goals, Immediacy, Feedback, Construct, Experience, Simulation).
"This theory proves that naturally, children have that attitude where they want to be given the space to resolve a problem and they also feel "more powerful" when they are able to do it," she added.
This model won a Gold award in UPM, a bronze medal at the national level (PECIPTA) and a Gold award at the international British Invention, Innovation & Technology Show (BIS) in London.
Under NEMD model, she succeeded in creating several multimedia research products and with the assistance of other researchers and students, she set up a company, AR Reality Maya Sdn. Bhd. for the commercialization of some of the products, including STAR Kit (Story Telling Augmented Reality Kit), A copyrighted Statutory Declaration (SD) NEMD Model, and DESARICE.
The features in NEMD model are applicable in teaching and education, thus enabling students to study in a positive and conducive gamified environment.
"When teaching using gamification is accepted positively by the public, there will always be solutions to those hard, difficult problems," she said.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Normahdiah who has been serving UPM since 1999, also said games in today's era were phenomenal, affecting both children and adults who had been exposed to new technologies.