Engage, Immerse, Inspire
We’ve previously discussed combination teaching methods. Teaching is strongest when it pulls from various sources of inspiration, mixing memory-based and investigative, physical and meditative. There are a lot of amazing details that make up your classroom and your style of teaching. But there is one vital ingredient that always remains the same. Engagement. Piquing a child’s interest and getting them on the hook, drawing them into your lesson. How large is the window of time where you could snare or lose a child’s engagement? Well, first impressions are everything…
We make games!
Full disclosure if you didn’t already know; Wibbu makes educational video games. We call them learning adventures, classroom co-ops, curriculum-aligned experiences. But they’re video games, plain and simple, and we believe they are the future of education.
We now what iGen does in its spare time, what it wants to achieve and how it telegraphs success. Over the last five years Wibbu has been developing products to onboard all of the positives of gaming culture into the classroom. We call it The Wibbu Way.
Our games are story-based. They introduce you to a compelling character with a series of drives and needs that are relatable to a student’s own. We then place the character in an unfamiliar environment where they will have to explore, inquire and investigate. This is the learning adventure. Because in this unfamiliar world, we have embedded lessons, teaching points, structures and rewards. It’s a bit of a ruse y’see. We’re not tricking kids into learning, we’re just… distracting them.
Is technology the key?
Yes and no. Technology on its own is not the answer. A poorly made video game, dull instructional video, or annoying song aren’t going to help you engage your students. What you need is a connection. And to build a connection you have to look beyond the technology.
When we’re crafting our games, connection is always on our minds. We fill the game with empathy-based situations. Students should like the characters they meet in the game and they should want them to succeed. They should want to solve problems and help rebuild a broken world. They should want to create and they should want to cooperate with their fellow classmates. These are skills that can be practiced away from a computer. They just happen to inform a really great video game experience.
We wrap our teaching tools around character-based situations. In our ESL game, Ruby Rei, students are encouraged to type in their target language through a social media component that keeps them in touch with a fictional friend. For speaking practice, they listen to and re-record clues with their microphone. For comprehension, they read instructions and take photographs of their adventure, logging their progress.
Employing the Wibbu Way
You don’t have to use Wibbu products to teach The Wibbu Way. You just need to have a commitment to engaging, immersing, and inspiring your students. Inspire them to continue exploring a subject outside of class with self-directed learning.
First, grab attention with something colourful, intriguing and fun. Create a learning mystery. A problem your students have to solve that is not solely based around the topic at hand. Create a character for your children to save. Make an emotional connection.
Next, immerse your children in the topic through a mix of media and activities. In our game we constantly stagger communication puzzles, creation puzzles, reflex puzzles.
Mix your media. Find a relevant video (a short one). Get your students to record and upload their own videos on the subject. Design their own game on paper. Act out dialogue from an imaginary situation, all while hitting the teaching points you’ve decided.
Educational video games exist to engage students in a different way. To help meet in the middle, speaking a language they understand. But remember, engagement is just the first step. You have to immerse students in learning and you have to inspire them to continue learning on their own. The tools are out there. Blogs and vlogs. Tutorials and chatbots. Things that students use every day. Point the kids in the right direction. Your entire curriculum exists on the internet in countless colourful, musical, animated forms.
Or play a video game.
– Truan Flynn, Educational Writer