“A recent study revealed that undergraduate students who are being taught using active learning techniques are 1.5 times more likely to pass than those attending classes with traditional lectures” (Active Learning: The Future of Higher Ed?, GetSmarter, 2018).
Educational technology has revolutionized the way members of Generation Z (i.e., people born after 2000) learn and engage with new content in the classroom. The rapid progress of digital technology seen in the growing use of multimedia within classrooms has enabled educators to be more creative in their teaching methods. Today’s students can view learning as fun and interesting, thus compelling instructors to embrace more innovative strategies while gradually forsaking the traditional ones of yesteryear.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with its sights set on Vision 2030, has introduced world-class technology in its academies across the country. This technology is meant to prepare students for effective computer literacy and digital citizenship in a kaleidoscopic global society. For instance, every classroom at King Saud University (KSU) is fully equipped with an e-podium, projector and smartboard that instructors can and should use in their lesson planning and execution. Such tools enable language teachers, in particular, to establish an active-learning environment in which students are deliberately and autonomously experimenting with the language in a communicative, dynamic and purposeful manner.
Furthermore, such accessible technology has facilitated the gamification of learning. Educators can convert parts of their lessons into games as a way of reinforcing lesson objectives. This allows for the introduction of new concepts and can encourage better student participation.
Kahoot! is one way teachers at KSU are achieving the aforementioned. This interactive and competitive game is designed to quiz students on some aspects of knowledge they have gained. Therefore, building camaraderie in the class as everyone uses the app to answer generated questions that are displayed on the smartboard, and with answers being selected through their mobiles, tablets or laptops.
In fact, the gamification of education is also evident in the hybrid approach that characterizes many universities curricula. Hybrid learning involves both face-to-face classroom attendance and a virtual component in which students must contribute to online discussions and complete homework tasks using a Learning Management System (LMS) such as Blackboard.
The gamification of education is also evident in the hybrid approach that characterizes many universities curricula.
The English Language Skills Department at KSU has incorporated this hybrid approach into its curriculum. This allows students to practice what they are learning in class and at home via the LMS. These virtual activities may take the form of vocabulary and grammar games, thematic discussion questions, and reading and listening passages, all meant to supplement what is learned in class.
In short, the amount of edutainment options is boundless as educational technology continues to evolve here in the Kingdom, the Middle East and in the world. Thus, employing active learning teaching techniques in higher education should no longer be a difficulty for cutting-edge classrooms. Teachers and institutions are seeking to ready the next generation of government, industry and academic professionals for life in a digital world.
By Charles McKinney, IV