TutoDYS: Learning in a gamified environment

Gamification is a trend that has been around for quite a while now. It is used in many areas: commercially for marketing or product design, but also in the training and education sector. In our project TutoDYS, we want to use the potential of gamification to make learning more accessible for children with specific learning disorders (SLDs).

What is gamification?

You will probably already have heard of the term. Gamification means using game thinking and game design in non-game contexts. So basically, you take typical game elements like challenges, rewards, storytelling and achievements and apply them to a situation that is usually not very fun. In our case this is an online learning platform. Many of you will know what online learning can be like: sitting in front of a screen, reading long texts and completing exercise after exercise. But online learning does not have to be dull or tedious. It can actually be pretty fun! That’s where gamification comes in.

Game elements like these can be used to make learning more engaging.

The benefits of gamification

Gamified learning environments do not only make learning more entertaining, but they also provide many other advantages. We generally learn better when we feel good. As a gamified learning platform reduces stress, this leads to better learning results. Gamification can also stimulate and motivate learners, which increases their engagement in learning. Engagement is a prerequisite for learning successfully, so motivating learners is crucial for any sort of learning experience. Another important reason to gamify, especially in our project, is that play-based learning remains an important approach for learning during childhood and strengthens children’s motivation and learning outcomes.[1] Games also provide constant feedback, in part through rewards, which helps learners to improve by learning from previous mistakes. Maybe you have already tried learning in a gamified environment yourself. One example for gamification in education you might know is Duolingo, a language learning app that uses gamification to keep its learners engaged.

How will we use gamification?

In our project TutoDYS we are creating an online learning platform for children from six to twelve who have learning disorders like dyslexia, dyspraxia or dyscalculia. The platform will support their learning in various fields with adapted exercises in a gamified learning environment. This will not only include engaging graphics, an interactive design and rewarding mechanisms, but we will also try to create a whole different world, so learners can be totally immersed in learning. We will of course make sure not to overload the learning platform, so the learners are not distracted from the actual goal: learning.

How do “Dys” children benefit from a gamified learning environment?

The benefits for children with learning disorders are similar to those for children with “normal” learning abilities when it comes to gamification. However, some of the benefits are amplified for “Dys” students. The immediate feedback in gamified learning environments is especially helpful for children with learning difficulties as they are better able to learn from their mistakes when given prompt feedback. The digital achievements also have the potential to nurture their oftentimes shaky self-confidence. Also, students with learning disorders are generally less motivated to learn, because the employed teaching methods are regularly ill-adapted to their needs. This leaves them more at risk of dropping out of school than “normal” learners. By gamifying their learning environment, we want to boost their engagement in learning so that students with SLDs can enjoy learning and will want to keep learning.

[1] UNICEF. (2018). Learning through play. https://www.unicef.org/sites/default/files/2018-12/UNICEF-Lego-Foundation-Learning-through-Play.pdf

Project website : Soon
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Our partners in this ambitious project are EDULOG (France), Euphoria (Italie), Les Apprimeurs (France), DABG (Sdruzhenie “Asociacia Dyslexia – Bulgarie) et Josip Matos PS (OSNOVNA SKOLA JOSIPA MATOSA – Croatie).

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