Little boy playing a mobile game against his sister.

Two people playing games on their mobile phones at a table. Only their hands are in view.
How can you increase student engagement and encourage deeper learning?

Our final Connect event of 2019 involved ECS Teaching Fellow Oli Bills and a practical demonstration of gamification in lectures. For several years Oli has been working on Enhancement techniques for student engagement in cybersecurity education and his efforts have been recognised with a SUSU Academic Award.

You may be familiar with the University-supported student response system, Vevox, but probably not yet heard of Oli’s gamification tool which he has developed himself. Like Vevox, ecsninja allows for real time polling of a live audience, but with some very different functionality. After giving a presentation about a case study using gamification techniques in one of his modules, Oli launched us into a competitive game of ‘Millionaire’ using our own devices.

The atmosphere in the room changed palpably. Moving from a slide-based presentation to a real time quiz about the content we had just been going over prompted lively discussion. There was a real buzz of conversation about the room, coupled with pairing up to share devices (and fictional prizes!). Technically, it was quick and simple to enter the game and the rules were straightforward.

The original game format has been recreated online but with a few modifications and careful thought given as to how to encourage participation without, ironically, gaming the system. Wrong answers are penalised, and there are good opportunities for the lecturer to address any misconceptions or misunderstandings of key concepts. All of this can be done with a safety net of anonymity in the group. Vevox can achieve much of the same, but ecsninja has preset game formats which are easy to adopt for different content, making it quicker to create something with competitive stakes.

Part of the real potential for ecsninja is the way different media files can be incorporated. One of our participants came from Music and had some great ideas about how to use audio files in combination with this tool in a lecture setting. Hopefully we will bring you an update on this potential collaboration later in the year.

Our first Connect event of 2020 will be in February. For more information about future events (and to book your place) visit our dedicated Connect page.

Connect: Gamification

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