Author: Mai Salmenkangas

Tips on game-based learning with migrants

Tips on game-based learning with migrants

Games are suited to everyone! When adjusting them to migrant groups, language support among other things needs to be highlighted. In CONNEXT we have worked around the topic internationally. This is a compilation of ideas on how to use gamification with migrants collected in a project partner meeting in Karlstad and in the CONNEXT Finland game sessions. Our game missions guide participants around their environment making use of different electronical platforms, but you can do yours in your preferred way!

It is meaningful to plan games keeping these three stages in mind:

  1. before playing
  2. while playing
  3. after playing

Everything starts from you as an instructor or a teacher. Get to know the gaming platform you are using and learn to use it. The best thing is when you know your group and their actual and special needs. Do the needs assessment for your group and start planning the game!

We suggest the following:

1. Before playing

  • Anticipate right day and equipment

It is important that the participants know early enough about the game session particularly if they should be prepared in some way e.g. with a full phone battery or weatherproof clothes. It’s good to keep in mind that people have different perceptions on weather and some may find for example the Nordic snow and cold quite intimidating. Weather conditions can be a big deal when playing outside, so do look at the weather forecast in advance!

  • Explain why

Although game-based learning is becoming increasingly more common, it isn’t a familiar approach to everyone. According to our experiences, some may feel it resembles too much children’s play, which may undermine the dignity of a grown-up. This can be the case particularly with some adults from migrant groups. Whatever the group, it’s important that your group knows why you are playing the game, how does it promote the aims of the group and what do the players gain from playing. You can assess the usefulness of the game also together in the end.

  • Plan groups carefully

If the group is very heterogeneous in view of language or technical skills, it’s good to plan diverse game groups, where participants can support each other in a meaningful way. However, a special attention should be paid to the division of the labour. In some mixed CONNEXT game groups we noticed that the native speakers easily took the lead, while those from the migrant groups took a more passive role. It’s important to discuss in advance that everyone has a valuable role to play and everyone has to be given an opportunity to participate.

  • Keep flexible schedule

Usually everything in a game session lasts longer than you have imagined and planned. Lack of strong common language often means giving instructions takes time. They may need to be repeated a few times. In some cases cultural habits may also affect the starting time: how to make sure that everyone will be there, when the game starts?

Especially if the game session is the first one with the group, give time for people to orientate and ask questions. You also need to give the initial info and instructions for participants and discussions after the game.

2. While playing

  • Use oral and visual instructions

Simple game missions are a good way to start, if you are playing with a heterogeneous group. In order for technical aspects not to discourage the participants nor to hamper the joy of playing, we recommend you to use plain language and to give instructions in stages. For some people listening is easier than reading. In this case recorded instructions probably work the best.

Including pictures with the equivalent word can support the understanding of instructions and simultaneously it promotes language learning. In CONNEXT we have also had good experiences with using instruction videos: if you cannot explain it, show it!

  • Choose suitable answering options

Complicated missions including many elements or long written answers may be a challenge for players who don’t have a strong common language. Therefore, you may wish to start with the simple options: take a picture, add a word, choose the right one among multiple choice options, make a film or say a sentence and record it. We have noticed that recording an answer in a game has been a motivating way to support languet learning even for those, who may be shy to speak in the class.

However, it may be easiest, if there is not too much variation in the beginning. Starting with 2-3 answering option types in the beginning gives the participants an opportunity to feel familiar and safe with them, perhaps the rest can be used next time?

  • Give support and encouragement

All people need support while playing, but the need increases in a heterogeneous group. Think in advance if your group should have instructors joining the game groups. They can guide players and support their motivation with their own example in a fair and enthusiastic way. CONNEXT has noticed that some adult players have benefited from an instructor in their group in particular, as they were concerned and even a little stressed about their level of technical skills. When the instructor joined the group, everyone could better concentrate in the contents and learning.

You may wish to have an extra hand during the game for giving feedback, guidance and support from a distance, even if instructors wouldn’t join the groups themselves. According to the experiences of CONNEXT giving feedback to the players regularly is very motivating and it gives the participants a feeling that you as an instructor are also part of the game.

  • Prepare support material

In order to support your groups, you can prepare a resource pack, which can be carried e.g. in a bag and given to all groups in the beginning of the game. It can consist e.g. of a vocabulary related to the theme of the game. The support bag of Swedish #Work game consisted of a paper with a model discussion. As the participants were expected in the game to approach a stranger on the street and ask them about their career, the participants could rehearse the discussion in advance: how to start the conversation, how to explain what you aim at etc. The paper with a model discussion gave more time for the participants to prepare and increased the likelihood that the encounter is successful.

3. After playing

It’s never just about the game session. Games can be seen as an instrument for example to learn or to become more empowered, inspired, self-aware and determined.

  • Collect feedback

It is important that the players can contribute and give feedback on the game. Feedback can be included in the game as one task. You have a choice to make: are you collecting feedback during the game, right after the game or would you like to have another session afterwards. Depending on the language skills of the participants you can choose e.g. feedback in multiple choice, audio, or video formats.

  • Share and reward

Discuss with the group about the game and its task. Share and show answers given by the groups. If there was points given in the game make sure you also reward the winners and encourage the others as well.

Gamification is all about keeping your own mind open and positive. That is contagious.

 

Text: Tiina Lehto-Lundén & Mai Salmenkangas, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences & Alisa Rämö, Omnia Vocational Upper Secondary School

Picture: Pexels/ Pixabay & Johanna Syrén

Welcome: Virtual Gamified Diamonds Seminar 26.8.

Welcome: Virtual Gamified Diamonds Seminar 26.8.

Are you interested in how gamification supporting learning and empowerment has developed over the past years?  What about how digital youth work has been done in Finland and how does it’s future look like? Welcome to Virtual Gamified Diamonds Seminar to find out more and to have a gamified experience of the best ideas of CONNEXT for inclusion project e.g. on how to apply gamification in the following themes: 

  • working with migrants and refugees
  • gender sensitivity and awareness
  • sports inspired pedagogy
  • study and career counselling

Location: Zoom platform (link will be shared closer to the date with everyone registered)

Target group: Any counsellors, teachers, coaches, other professionals and students, who wish to understand how to use gamification to support learning and empowerment particularly with the youth

Language: Presentations, group discussions and the game platform are in English, but while playing the game you are welcome to use any preferred language

 

PROGRAMME

(Please note that the times are not presented in Finnish time, but GMT+1. In Finland the seminar starts at 9 o’clock.)

8.00               Welcome

8.15               Gamified Education: Theories, Practices and Recent Trends

Researcher Lobna Hassan (University of Tampere/Turku, lobnahassan.com)

In recent years, gamification emerged as one key method to improve learning and engagement. At the beginning, we often understood gamification as introducing game elements, such as points, badges or leaderboards, to the educational process. However, as our knowledge on gamification grew, gamification started to be conceptualized as a much deeper process. Gamification designers often employ psychology theory and research, so as to understand what motivates individuals and build gamification that is able to connect to these motivations in different contexts, for example in the educational contexts. Work has additionally been done to examine personal differences in gamification, in an effort to make sure that gamification is inclusive and facilitates inclusion. This presentation briefly introduces gamification, some of the key theoretical perspectives it is connected to and provides research and practical examples of gamification.

                      Reflections on the presentation in small groups

9.15             Energizing break

9.30             Digital youth work in Finland

Planner Juha Kiviniemi (Verke – Centre of Expertise for Digital Youth Work in Finland)

Finnish digital youth work has been and is widely considered one of the most developed in the world. However, there is still much to do: while the field is highly advanced in terms of using online platforms and interacting with young people on digital platforms, we have our blind spots as well. Especially working in international contexts it is clear how different European member states have their own strengths and how much we have to learn from each other, whether it’s working on social media, tinkering with electronics or producing high quality media content. In this presentation we look at major technological developments and phenomena in the last decade and see how the Finnish youth field reacted to them. We also take a peek at the wider European context now and in the future.

                        Reflections on the presentation in small groups

10.15             Lunch break

10.45             Playing a game: CONNEXT Diamonds

Seminar participants will have an opportunity to become inspired by the gamified approaches and materials developed in CONNEXT in Finland, Flanders and Sweden through playing a game CONNEXT Diamonds. Each participant should have a mobile phone or a tablet with an internet connection.

The CONNEXT Diamonds game has been prepared in collaboration with Loisto Setlementti Girls’ House and Empowering Migrants for Employment EME project.

                        Instructions on the technical game platform

                        Independent playing of CONNEXT Diamonds game

                        Reflection in small groups

                        Wrap-up of the game experience 

12.30             End of the day

 

Registration in this e-form by 19 August. 

For further information on the seminar, please contact: mai.salmenkangas @ metropolia.fi

Finnish approach: Many games for many purposes

Finnish approach: Many games for many purposes

The aim of the Finnish CONNEXT has been to inspire many professionals and organisations to develop their own games or single missions, creating a pedagogical movement of game-based learning. All games have had something to do with supporting youth from migrant communities to find their path in the new society.

 

Games throughout the summer

 

It’s quite common to use serious urban games with a strong supervision and a time pressure. YMCA Helsinki wanted to experiment something else. They used a game to motivate and orientate approximately 40 young summer workers to their first summer job and the working environment in YMCA.

“The most interesting thing was,” stated one of the game masters Tiina Lehto-Lundén from Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, “that the game wasn’t only a one time thing. The summer workers had a possibility to continue playing the game and carry out missions related to their job independently throughout the summer.”

 

As a conclusion, Tiina said: “This gave a splendid opportunity to both the youngsters and the supervisors to learn and test something new.”

 

 

Gamifying an existing training

 

The Sports Federation of Southern Finland expressed creative thinking when converting an existing training “Järkkää tapahtuma” (Organise an event) into a game. Instead of listening to a lecture, the participants now had the responsibility to solve tasks and come up with solutions to the given problems.

 

The training was first tested by tutors in Omnia vocational school. The students wanting to be tutors and help new students were invited together. They were given a yellow backpack with juggling balls, plastic cones, and a jump rope. Finally they were sent outside to do different gamified tasks.

 

“The tasks reminded me of similar things I did in Montessori kindergarten and up to the 6th grade. I think refreshing my memory with these games will help me in the future with tutor groups and will give me things to do with the new students, they were good icebreaker games,” one of the participants, Lemley said.

 

As a result, the tutors were inspired to arrange an Independence Day event in for the preparatory classes in Omnia, mainly consisting of youngsters from the ethnic communities.

 

 

Explorations in the city 

 

Boy’s House has developed a game called “#stadistartti” (Get started in the capital city), which was first tested among pupils of 13-17 years of age. It consists of various kinds of tasks, such as count the steps next to the Senate Square, search for a 3D printer in the library Oodi, interview by-passers, send a letter to the school and so on.

 

 ”I feel that the game was a good tool in supporting language learning. Reading instructions and carrying out tasks gave an opportunity to the participants to practice their Finnish skills in a versatile way,” stated one of the game masters, Tuulia Simulainen.

 

“To me personally it was a good reminder that also travelling time can be useful for the purposes of learning. You can for example ask game participants about the surrounding city and give an opportunity to the youngsters themselves to find their way to the next place,” she continued.

 

In addition to the above mentioned game contents there are various other games ready or in the making in the Finnish CONNEXT project. They have themes varying from exercises in the nature to gender awareness and wellbeing services to students. The project also warmly welcomes new game ideas and new partners!

 

 

Text: Edited by Mai Salmenkangas (contents compiled from stories written by Tiina Lehto-Lundén, Lemley and Tuulia Simulainen, some already published in Finnish)

 

Pictures: Nadiifo Omer and Tuulia Simulainen

Ready – steady – S_U+G®!

Ready – steady – S_U+G®!

It’s necessary to experience it before you know it. This was very clear with S_U+G Serious Urban Game® methodology, because oral or written descriptions just didn’t help curious CONNEXT partners to understand what S_U+G® is all about. In March 2019 the partners had a chance in Ghent to play two games developed by [ew32], namely Business Angels and #Work – and to understand it all.

Welcome to get acquainted with impressions from the S_U+G® training in a film. (The article continues under the film.)

The reaction of training participants on S_U+G® was enthusiastic. Many felt it was exactly what they needed when working with immigrants. One participant stated in the evaluation: “By knowing and playing this new method, I’ve got new oxygen in order to empower youngsters and groups.” S_U+G® was considered a suitable method also with vulnerable groups: “It’s important for me to make my students feel secure, safe and have confidence and have fun while learning. Using this method I am sure they will.”

Others felt playing a game was a journey to themselves: “The creative aspect in the game was an eye-opener for me. Through the game I discovered a creative part in myself.” It is true that S_U+G® gives an opportunity to apply many different approaches, as documentation of missions can include for example photographs, voice, films and written documentation. For example in Business Angels game real life entrepreneurs were interviewed and business logos were created on a pavement by drawing with colourful chalk.

The S_U+G® methodology can be used to support immigrants to get acquainted with different places, organisations and people in their new home country. It can also be a tool to promote the practicing of new language skills. Best of all, it is meaningful to use S_U+G® in pairs or small groups, which means that nobody needs to carry out tasks or explore the surroundings on their own.

During CONNEXT for inclusion project new S_U+G® games will be developed and trainers trained in three countries, Belgium/ Flanders (Ghent), Finland (Helsinki) and Sweden (Karlstad).

Text: Mai Salmenkangas, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Finland (quotes from training evaluation material)

Picture: Screen shot from CONNEXT film produced by [ew32]