What do you remember the most about school?
Was it the dull, repetitious lessons on spelling and multiplication tables that you remember best? Or are your strongest memories of the FUN things you did at school - the times you learnt through games?
Odds are that some of your favourite school-age memories are of things you enjoyed doing, and that’s exactly the idea behind Devika’s approach to learning about tech.
During their time with the NSW Department of Education last week, the Devika team presented employees on how they can use games to teach children crucial skills of the future such as web development, coding and 3D printing.
Originally Devika had been invited to speak on how best to integrate augmented and virtual reality technology into classrooms. While classroom integration of AR and VR tech is no doubt inevitable in the near future, the Devika team also expressed how important it is to teach school kids tech skills, so they can create as well as consume tech content.
To do this Devika uses a method called gamification. As the name suggests, the method involves applying some of the typical elements of games (e.g. scoring points, building and collecting objects) to non-gaming contexts. In this case, that means teaching.
By using gamification to teach skills such as website building, Devika has found children easily become engaged in learning without them even realising they’re being taught. A great example of this concept are the Minecraft workshops that Devika operates on a regular basis.
The Devika team make it easy and enjoyable for kids to learn tech by using game-making as a launch pad. Starting with very simple “drop and drag” programs, children quickly start being taught basic coding for games, before being introduced to bonus online skills such as blogging (which is a great skill for aspiring entrepreneurs to know).
Using private enterprises to teach tech skills has the additional benefit of taking pressure off teachers. With the unstoppable and exponential growth of the technology industry, even tech-centric organisations such as Devika have to work to stay up-to-date. This places a huge burden on teachers, who should be able to focus their energy on teaching rather than being experts in tech. This, is where organisations such as Devika can fill the gap and give students industry-direct knowledge. And because you can currently create VR and AR content independent of the hardware (i.e. you can create software that can be used across a variety of VR devices), it means teachers are not restricted to certain hardware.
The Department of Education's excitement at these possibilities means that it might not be long until gamification-style teaching of tech becomes widespread. With all the fun that kids have learning these skills, it almost makes you wish you were back at school.