7 tips to effectively use games and gamification in the college classroom

By Min Xiao
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Min Xiao

Min Xiao

Many people think educational games are for elementary school students and adults are too old to play them. In fact, games are widely used in both academic and professional trainings.

In universities, some professors ask their students to role-play being a manager in a company to solve real-world business issues. This activity is actually a role-playing game.

In the professional world, many companies use games as major team-building activities during orientation for new employees.

When people play games, they are usually very happy. This positive mood helps them to learn knowledge quicker and better than usual.

Another way to enliven the class is to use a technique called gamification. People often confuse gamification with using games in class. In fact, the two concepts are very different.

Gamification means borrowing game elements and applying these elements in non-game situations. For instance, teachers can adopt ranking and rewarding systems from video games and apply them in their class. The structure of the class is like a game, but students may not play a real game in the class.

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‘Teaching Naked’ provides strategies & insights into using technology as a college instructor

by Barbara Myslik
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Barbara Myslik

Barbara Myslik

In his book “Teaching Naked” José Antonio Bowen, the President of Goucher College, presents a fascinating new way of looking at a role technology plays in post secondary education. From the provoking title to the last chapter — filled with useful strategies, tips and insights — Bowen grabs our attention and provokes us to rethink technology as we know it.

The book is divided into three parts.

In Part One, titled “New digital landscape,” Bowen sets up the context. There are three basic truths regarding technology and its relationship with education that the author wants us to embrace before moving on to practical advice.

First, education online, or education using technology is no longer domain of post secondary institutions. Computer users all over the world can gain free access to content delivered in variety of ways suited to their learning preferences with no need for an educational institution intermediary. That means, the value of what what it is that institutions of higher learning are delivering has to change. Higher education, according to Bowen, can no longer focus on delivering content. It needs to focus on delivering thinking skills to filter, understand, analyze and apply that content to new situations that are a part of our every day life.

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Strategies for designing more effective class group projects

by Liudmila Khalitova
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Liudmila Khalitova

Liudmila Khalitova

Group projects have many advantages for students as well as for instructors.

Students have an opportunity to learn more working people, decrease their individual work load sharing it with other students, and develop collaboration and communication skills which are essential for their future work.

Instructors can assign more complex tasks and reduce the number of final projects to grade.

However, sometimes group work can be very challenging. In this post I will address those challenges and give some tips on how to minimize the costs of group projects.

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4 questions to ask yourself to determine which technology to use in your teaching

By Aqsa Bashir
Ph.D student, University of Florida

Aqsa Bashir

Aqsa Bashir

Technology can both be a virtue and a curse in the classroom depending on how an instructor choses to use it.

Technology can aid and distract at the same time if not managed well by the instructor.

Instructors can utilize a number of technology tools to aid the course and student experience —  Learning Management Systems (such as Canvas or Blackbroad), e-mail/listservs, blogs, social media, videos, PowerPoint presentations, Google Docs, and Skype.

Now imagine cramming all these into one 50-minute lecture. That would be a technology overload.

Hence, choosing the right tool for your class is as important as the class content itself.

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Experiential learning – Crucial for college students inside & outside the classroom

Karsten Burgstahler
Master’s student, University of Florida

Kartsen Burgstahler

Kartsen Burgstahler

You’ve probably heard one of your students say (or you remember yourself as a student saying) “When am I EVER going to use this in real life?”

Part of your job as a teacher is to get students to think critically, but you don’t want them to learn just for class and then not be able to transfer that knowledge when they need it out in the field.

That’s why experiential learning is so important.

You give students a chance to work with real world problems – and, in some instances, actually work  – and see how what they’re learning now will benefit them in their careers.

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12 strategies for maximizing cultural diversity in the classroom

by Toluwani C. Oloke
Ph.D Student, University of Florida

Toluwani C. Oloke

Toluwani C. Oloke

Here are 12 tips for teachers to help them improve course design and instruction to recognize and promote cultural diversity in the classroom.

  1. Appreciate the diversity; understand the diversity as a quality of wealth of perspectives and differences in terms of: language, personalities and learning styles.
  2. Consider students’ cultures and language skills when developing learning objectives and instructional activities — technology use and familiarity, perceptions of personal space, and individual vs group projects.
  3. Facilitate conducive learning and classroom environment that promotes sense of belonging, mutual respect and value for others’ opinions.
  4. Incorporate multiple assessment and teaching styles to engage all students in ways that are culturally, cognitively and linguistically responsive and appropriate. individually.
  5. Monitor student progress individually when possible, even when they are working in groups.
  6. Build a relationship with students.
  7. Culturally contextualized illustrations in class do not always help. Use neutral non-stereotype illustrations that all students can understand or easily learn.
  8. Make class participatory.
  9. Use simulations.
  10. Let students explore their strengths and understanding in multiple ways.
  11. Hold all students to high expectations.
  12. Eliminate stereotype biases and myths about students; instead, know your students as individuals.

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4 questions teachers should ask themselves to improve their students’ motivation

by Barbara Myslik
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Barbara Myslik

Barbara Myslik

Motivating students to can be one of the most challenging tasks a teacher faces, but it can also be one of the most exciting. There are several factors important to consider when thinking of ways to achieve that goal.

Here are four questions teachers should ask themselves as they consider how to motivate their students.

Question #1: Is the student intrinsically or extrinsically motivated? (Motivation type)

Students who learn for their own satisfaction, and are motivated by internal factors, more then by external rewards, respond well to tasks that are both challenging and give them sense of personal control. For an intrinsically motivated student sense of control over the task is fun and rewarding, so it is important to let them create as much of their learning experience as possible.

Students motivated by external rewards respond well when the subject is made applicable to them. It is important to praise their accomplishments, as positive feedback motivates them to work harder. Also, introducing an element of friendly competition can work really well for an extrinsically motivated student.
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