Game-based learning

Elements of gamification

Gamification is an emerging trend in education though it has been used in business and marketing for a long time. The term “gamification” was used the first time in 2008, but it was not widespread before the end of 2010.

Features of gamification:
● users are participants
● tasks have defined objectives and they get more difficult
● when tasks are executed users gain points
● users pass new levels depending on the points
● badges serve users as rewards for completing actions
● users are ranked according to their performance

Gamification uses the features of the games but has always an educational goal.

Well designed educational gamification will:
● encourage problem solving
● promote teamwork
● give players a sense of control
● reward out-of-the-box thinking
● reduce the fear of failure that inhibits innovative experimentation and
● support diverse interests and skillsets.

Different kind of games can be integrated to other curricular activities. In educational games there are goals, rules, feedback, competition, time, rewards, badges and a chance to try again which all increase engagement.

Designing a game requires understanding of game mechanics and gamer motivation. According to Bartle there are four types of gamers:
● Achievers – gathering points and rising in levels is their main goal
● Explorers – focus on finding out how the game works
● Killers – like to provoke and to cause stress to other gamers
● Socialisers – are interested in having relationships with other gamers

Gamification can be used both in educational games to but also as a pedagogical method. Metropolia University of Applied Sciences has Game Studio where students are working as employees and designing games for public sector, start-ups and education. Implementation of new game is always defined cooperating with the customer. Game designers test the game they are creating with focus groups to ensure that the result is what customer expected.

Game-based learning shortly

Bartle, R.
Cornetti, M., 2013. Totally Awesome Training Activity Guide Book: How to Put Gamification to Work for You.
Deterding, S., Dixon, D. Khaled, R. & Nacke, L., 2011. Gamification: Toward a Definition.
Dicheva, D., Dichev, C., Agre, G. and Angelova, G. Gamification in Education: A Systematic Mapping Study.
Kiryakova, G., Angelova, N.  & Yordanova, L. 2017. Gamification in education.
Metropolia Game Studio
O’Neal, P. Gamification for Adult Learners

Case, Scenario, Problem, Project -based learning

Problem Based Learning (PBL) means solving real-world problems and issues and learning critical thinking at the same time. Instead of learning things by reading books learner absorbs skills he or she can use in the future in working life. Some of them problems may be have many possible solution and some of them stay insolvable.

When in PBL problem and work-method are defined, in Case based learning (CBL) neither of them are given, there is just a case to be solved. Case based learning is used especially in medical education and when using simulations in learning.

Scenario-based learning (SBL) gives learners a chance to be active members of the process.
Scenario-based e-learning improves understanding and engagement. Is is also good in motivating students. Seeing how the skills they learn are useful in the future rewards learners. There is challenge enough, but learners do not have to stretch their minds over their limits.

Also Project-based learning requires students active participation. Projects may last several weeks or months. Three key components of project-based learning are:
1) a real-life question which is meaningful for students
2) opportunities to investigate and to learn concepts and to adapt information
3) co-operation in a team and sharing new knowledge to others

Each of above-mentioned forms of learning require adopting new ways of thinking when you learn by gathering information yourself, asking right questions, investigating and deciding which is the right approach in each of them. When all this is done by e-learning it requires that teacher has familiarized himself or herself with possibilities of learning materials and how the process is planned and implemented.

Beginner’s Guide to Scenario-Based Learning
Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning Case-Based learning
E-learning Industry
Laatua e-oppimateriaaleihin

Finding material for this blog post was interesting because there were so many synonyms found for problem-based learning. If you want to read more I suggest following links in the Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning:  Activity-based learning;  Collaborative learning; Cooperative learning;  Experiential learning;  Goal-based learning;  Interactivity; Inquiry-based learning;  Learning and action;  Learning by doing;  Problem solving;  Problem-based learning; Scenario-based learning

Authentic, contextualized, and real-world learning

Learning is more interesting when you learn things you need and skills you can use right away. Studying a degree means that you have to learn things you don’t find essential or fascinating at all, but since they are part of curriculum you just have to leave your comfort zone and familiarize yourself with also dull themes you probably never need. When I was studying my Bachelor’s degree, accounting was such topic for me. I most certainly knew that I may be many things in my life but I’ll never be an accountant! Yet I managed to wade through the course I hated more than I can say…

Last year I found a hobby that is really made for me: fishing! I spent hours after hours with my spinning rod to learn the right technique. I didn’t even think of quitting because I succeeded in what I was doing. I caught a fish after another and even when I didn’t, I enjoyed every moment. At the same time my feelings about studying was quite different… When you want to learn something that really interests you, you are ready to spend hours and hours to internalize a new skill or to understand a theory. The main word is relevancy. When you study something that is relevant for you, you will be more motivated.

Working with real-life problems makes learning more interesting and when you are able to combine the things you already know with new things all pieces start to fall into place. When you are taught skills you need, you find a meaning to learning and contextualization has really succeeded.

Authentic learning is real-world related and learning tasks are designed to innovate educators. There are 10 design elements that form the essence of authentic learning:

1. Real-world relevance
Real world tasks makes learning more authentic.

2. Ill defined problem
Authentic activities are open to multiple interpretations.

3. Sustained investigation
Tasks require thorough familiarization and they will not be solved in minutes.

4. Multiple sources and perspectives
Learners will use many resources and they learn to see the difference between important and meaningless information.

5. Collaboration
Learners have to co-operate when they are doing tasks.

6. Reflection
Learners will reflect their learning.

7. Interdisciplinary perspective
Wider perspective and use of knowledge is needed in doing tasks.

8. Integrated assessment
Formative assessment attached to activities and tasks.

9. Polished products
There will be an output, not just tasks without purpose.

10. Multiple interpretations and outcomes
There is not only one solution, but many possibilities to solve the problem.
(Marilyn May Lombardi, 2007)

Authentic Learning by Dr Lam Bick Har
Authentic Learning for the 21st Century: An Overview by Marilyn May Lombardi
Authentic learning: what, why and how? e-Teaching
Contextualization:Creating a Support System for Contextualized Instruction A Toolkit for Program Managers

Augmented reality

For us who have lived our childhood watching black-and-white TV it was quite amazing to get color TV. Later we have got VCR, Walkman and mobile phone which all have changed our lives even more. At the same time these devices have offered us new possibilities to enjoy life and communicate more effectively. For net natives these gizmos seem ancient because they have been playing with far more complicated gadgets when they were kids. That is why technology enhanced learning is obvious for their generation.

Augmented Reality – more interaction to education

According to Oxford dictionary Virtual reality (VR) is “computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors”. Augmented reality (AR) is explained to be “a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view”.

Augmented Reality enables connecting reality with digital content. You just need either mobile device or special glasses to experience AR.

Pokémon Go brought Augmented Reality closer to us in July 2016. For couple of months streets were full of kids (and even grownups) looking for Pokémon. AR is fun, but it’s not only for games. It can also make learning more interesting.

In Turku Cathedral you can download app for your iPhone or borrow  device from info. The whole cathedral comes to life and you have a chance to explore even closed medieval tombs. There are also QR-codes you can use with you mobile phone and learn more about the history of the cathedral.

Porolahti junior high school in Helsinki is a good example of using AR in in education. They have created a 45 minutes route on the shore of Porolahti for biology classes.  There are several control points on the route where pupils answer questions, look for information, take selfies or take photos of the objects teacher has defined in advance. 

There is lot of unused potential when it comes to AR in education. AR can be used in classroom and outside of it. It is useful when explaining abstract things and it may increase students interest and engagement to different topics. As mentioned above it can be used for learning and discovering new things. It already gives us a chance to experience new thing and learn at the same time, no matter where we are.

Augmented Reality may revolutionize education in the future. It is hard to predict when and how it happens because field of education is known to be traditional and slow when it comes to radical changes.



If you want to dig deeper you may want to read these:




If I Could Turn Back Time!

Sometimes one moment is just a blink of an eye and sometimes it turns out to be almost  eternity… I thought that I needed a short break in the middle of my studies. Then one thing lead to another and all of a sudden I noticed that I have totally neglected my studies for months. It could have been a good decision if I hadn’t stressed out this whole time… But now I’m back in business and eager to continue!

In a few days I’ll start my series of posts concerning Technology Enhanced Learning. This subject is really fascinating and addictive, the more I read the more I want to learn.


I’ve been busy, too busy to stop and think. I’ve been reading day after day and answering all kinds of tasks. Some of them have been interesting and useful, some of them seem to be waste of time. At least this is what I think now.

I have worked in different kind of jobs and sometimes I have wondered am I ever going to need the skills I’ve learned? Always I have ended up noticing that nothing I’ve learned has been useless. Probably same goes for these tasks. I don’t need the knowledge right now but it is possible that within few weeks or months I think otherwise.

Last week I read interesting articles:  Memory Machines and Collective Memory: How We Remember the History of the Future of Technological Change by Audrey Watters and A Call for Critical Instructional Design by Sean Michael Morris.

I’ve always thought that technology has been created to help us. But it is possible that in the future machines will control us or at least our memory. After reading the first article I started to value our own capability of thinking and remembering, more than ever.

We differ from machines because at some point we get tired of adopting new things. We have to have breaks, eat, sleep and give our brain time to rest before we can memorize new things. Though we can’t fight against the fact that machines can store more information than we can, human mind is more powerful than any machine.

We can store all kinds files: photographs, e-mails, e-books etc. on our memory machines. The difference between us and machines is that we have emotional bond to all the things we remember. Some of them mean more to us, some of them are insignificant.

Feeling something includes also sensing and touching. It is nice to sit down with a box of old fainted photographs. Each of them tell us their story and bring memories back to life. Watching photos on a screen isn’t just the same. Reading an old letter is more emotional than reading any e-mail. Handwritten text tells so much more about the sender than any font or emoji used. Seeing old beloved book that you read when you were a child brings back so many memories that you probably remember many things you thought you had long forgotten. Try to make a machine do the same!

We can’t trust that we will always have our stored data available. It’s essential that we remember certain things and that we teach these things also to our children. Songs are a good example. You may listen to them and recognize them though you wouldn’t remember them entirely. But to be able to sing them you have to memorize them. Same goes for learning. You may remember parts of what you’ve learned but if you don’t know how to tie up the loose ends you’ll only have a huge amount of useless information. When you find out what to do and how to use the information you have, you have learned something and you can create something new. Then you can sing the song of your knowledge.

With a Little Bit of Luck

For some strange reason this song from My Fair Lady came to my mind while writing this post… Knowing the words of the song I know exactly why: “With a little bit of luck someone else will do the blinkin’ work (With a little bit of luck you’ll never work)”. Without luck I just  have to do also the thinking work!

This week I had to find my inner leader just to lead myself through this tough week with several different tasks.

This blog post is good example of what you shouldn’t do, add all kind of stuff into one single post, but necessity knows no law.


Leaders and leadership

If you find yourself a good leader it’s something you should hold onto. Everyone has met leaders that makes you wonder who has promoted them and why. They may be experts on their own field but they have no idea of how they should deal with their followers.

Good leader has a vision what the company is heading for and he’s the one showing the way to his followers. He understands the culture of the company and knows it’s strategy. He also knows how to engage his followers so they also do their best for the joint success.

It is possible to learn leadership skills and become a good leader. You can reach to that level by learning, being observant and obtaining the needed skills. Companies are full of leaders who have done their job well enough to get promoted. They know what they are talking about but they don’t necessarily know how they should lead and what leadership really means.

In Robert J. Allio’s article Leaders and Leadership – many theories, but what advice is reliable? he writes that some scholars have tried to differentiate leadership and management. As if managers had subordinates who they oblige and leaders have followers who they persuade.

I especially liked the following sentence that accumulates the idea of leadership: “The reality is that managers must lead, and leaders must manage.”

There isn’t philosopher’s stone to tell how to become good leader. You can assume certain skills and learn to be a good leader but to become a great leader you have to born with it. At least I think so. You have to have ideas and visions, but also lots of ambition and charisma. You have to have a certain passion that keeps you going!

“A wise manager surrounds himself with subordinates that are more clever than him.” one of my former superiors once told me. I think she was right. By saying that she showed me that  she values what I know and what I can do for the company. She made me feel special.  I didn’t think her as a manager, she was truly a leader. And after that I wasn’t subordinate, I became follower.

Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection

From leaders we jump into school world. The report “Students, Computers and Learning” was released 2015. It says: “In 2012, 96% of 15-year-old students in OECD countries reported that they have a computer at home, but only 72% reported that they use a desktop, laptop or tablet computer at school, and in some countries fewer than one in two students reported doing so.”

I was a bit surprised about this because I would have thought that computers are already in common everyday use in every school. I’ve also thought that all net natives would have excellent computing skills but that doesn’t seem to be the fact.

I read blog posts of Michael Trucano and Andreas Schleicher where they commented the report. Trucano’s summary of key findings is interesting to read. There is a lot technology in schools but it is not used effectively. I’ve seen the same thing in my work. The amount of apps doesn’t make your work any easier if you’re missing the point why you should use them.

Curriculum Design and Implementation

Now I step into a field I know absolutely nothing about.

What I found out is we in Metropolia have a curricula guide for planning the studies. The curricula contain descriptions of all studies. Curricula define the learning outcomes, content and the assessment criteria. It also contains course timing and extent. It has been planned so students can have flexible study paths. Students can choose at least 15 credits optional studies or 30 credits secondary subjects.

Metropolia’s curricula are competence-based and they are formulated by degree programs. Curricula work is made in cooperation with teachers, students and working life.

I have to dig deeper into this and find out all the steps. I’ll return to this subject later when I know what I’m writing about.

Miscellaneous blog post

What do these three things have in common and why are they all in same post? These were the things I read about this week and the common denominator is my studies. Because I had a mixed week I wanted to share it with you. Sometimes you have time to concentrate on one thing and sometimes you just have to multitask as much as you can.

And what comes to the song from My Fair Lady, it just popped up to my mind and made my day a bit better!



What a week!

Sometimes it feels like nothing happens and all of a sudden you notice that you have a week that has more events than you can handle.

Tuesday we had a video meeting with my fellow students and a teacher. Day was quite awful from the beginning and it was even worse when I noticed that I happened to have a bad English day. I felt like I was talking English for the first time in my life!! I spent the rest of the day blaming myself for my poor performance.

Gladly we have so much to do with studies that there’s no time for whining. So I started to read. I kept reading and reading and connecting things to what I’ve learned before.

It was good to see that learning is also being creative. Back in high school it was more important to remember what you had learned instead of using your own brain and being creative. Active learning is far more interesting than rote learning!

I read a lots of material about history of educational technology. The history is even longer than I thought. Tony Bates blog post explains it in terms of communication which makes it easier to absorb. Well at least for a former journalist…

When I read the blog post and other materials that I immersed myself in, it made me wonder what skills do we need after all? In today’s working life is it better to perceive something new yourself or is it enough to only combine the things you have read and heard? Are you more valuable employee if you have new ideas and if you’re capable of seeing things from a new perspective? That totally depends on where you’re working at! I wish I could create something new and to be able to use my imagination instead of my Excel skills.

When tomorrow comes

Predicting what will happen in the future is never too easy. Educational institutes should be able to foresee what happens in the near future and plan their curriculum according to that. Afterwards it is easy to say what we have done wrong and what we haven’t been able to predict. Will digitization be the answer to certain problems or is it going to cause more of them?

In the article written by John von Radowitz it was told that according to Sir Anthony Sheldon the role of teacher will change dramatically in the future. He

thinks that teachers will be replaced by artificially intelligent computers within 10 years. That wouldn’t necessarily be a bad idea since the skills of teachers vary a lot and teachers can be prejudiced and favor certain students. Still I think they are needed. At least some of them a pretty good at what they’re doing!!

I thought a bit further what could happen if teachers were replaced by AI. Major disadvantage  would be that we don’t know enough of how to use it safely. It could be a huge risk to give the power of teaching to AI because we don’t know how it’s going to use it. We all have had teachers who have had major impact on us. It may have been good or bad but still we can recall certain things because the person inside the teacher has impressed us.

Reading about AI lead me to study the subject more and I almost forgot that I was supposed to concentrate on educational technology. This is close enough: I found out that Google’s Deep Mind has learned to walk. I wonder how smoothly I would move if I had learned to walk without seeing anyone else walking. Deep Mind learned it all by itself.

Back to the Future

Back to the past

When I went to school I lived in a small village where there were only about 50-60 students in whole school. First six grades of the comprehensive school we had two grades in the same classroom (e.g. 3rd and 4th grade). It was quite challenging to study e.g. history when I happened to be on the grade where we started from Middle Ages and then next year we went back to Stone Age. The other class was far luckier since they had a chance to study those subjects in correct order. Afterwards I think it was good practice for future studies.

Since the school was so small we didn’t have many technological equipment. We had an overhead projector and sometimes teacher showed us something with a slide projector.

Technology used in junior high school was almost the same as in elementary school. Language laboratory was a great place to learn English and Swedish but because there was only one of them we had a chance to be there maybe two times a month.

In junior high school we were offered a chance to take a computer course but since we didn’t have computer at home there was no need to take that. The first computer I ever saw was in my friends home where they had Commodor 64, back in 1984…

In upper secondary school we had some computers but they were only for teachers. Still overhead projector was the hi-tech in our classrooms. Television and videos were used in teaching quite often. Also more possibilities to study in language laboratory.

Though we didn’t use very much technology I think we learned all the things we needed to.

It was quite a jump into a totally different world when I studied my Bachelor’s degree in Lapland UAS. Studies were online and I visited Tornio only two times. Technology in learning became familiar and after that I wouldn’t want to go back to a classroom. It’s too small and boring for me. I want to have the whole world with me when I’m learning new things!

And what do we have now?

I work in Metropolia UAS in Education Development Services. I use many technologies every day. I have my laptop and smartphone with me where ever I go. I  can work in my office, at home or where ever I want. Actually without my laptop I could do barely nothing so technology has very important role in my work.

Our team  has WhatsApp group, we use Office 365, Google Drive etc. The greatest advantage of this is that I can be reached were ever I am and I also have access to all information I need to serve our students and personnel.

New information systems are developed in Metropolia all the time to help our work and gladly we also have a chance to influence on new systems. It is important because we are the ones using these systems and it’s better to be part of the process from the very beginning.

Back in 1989 I couldn’t have foreseen how important role technology has in my life nowadays. At that time we were just learning to understand that computers are going to have some kind of  role in our lives.

Let’s twist again!

Though I love all new apps and all possibilities provided by Internet I still love handwriting. For me it’s the best way when I want to remember something. I also happen to love order. I couldn’t think of studying if the surroundings aren’t in order.

I struggled with flu for four days and couldn’t focus on studying. The rest of the week I spent all my free time trying to catch up things. I noticed that I actually liked reading a doctoral thesis about learning environments! There has to be something wrong with me.

I admit I’ve never liked bookkeeping. What I learned during the week was who is the one to blame for this very complicated system. Mr. Luca Pacioli is the father of accounting. He invented it back in 1494. There’s also International Accounting Day celebrated on November 10th. Isn’t that something!

I tried to concentrate reading a book we have for this course. This far I’ve found three ways to use it:

  1. This book weights 1,65 kg so you can use it for self-defense by carrying it in your handbag.
  2. This book is probably the cure for insomnia. I tried to read it and I fell asleep on page 7. The total amount of pages is 831 so it’ll take a while for me to get to the end.
  3. You can act like a professional and read this book full of important information about accounting and finance.

One thing one have to keep in mind is that when you’re studying you will always have courses that you love as well as courses you hate. My trick in situations like this is to find a way to see those difficult or boring topics in totally different light.