The ideas and techniques the researchers borrowed from video-game makers include using strong narratives throughout their lectures, providing students with constant streams of input that engage as many of the senses as possible, and giving them opportunities to join in the action to keep them feeling connected.
MIT enhances online learning using gaming techniques
Online learning offers the opportunity to engage a much broader set of students with different learning styles, and to potentially supercharge outcomes. A new study at MIT’s Sloan School of Management at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, finds that educators who borrow ideas and tools from the gaming community can improve their online teaching techniques, and improve learning outcomes for students.
For example, to build anticipation for class, the study follows the typical gamer’s livestream approach of displaying a countdown timer on the course splash page about 30 minutes before the synchronous lectures start. It also plays upbeat music during the final minutes before class to boost energy levels. In addition, the study uses a combination of the “Raise Hand” function in Zoom, polls, breakout sessions, and the chat window to keep students fully engaged at all times, switching tasks and/or scenes once every 15 minutes or so to maintain their attention and interest levels throughout the lecture.
They also found that the lower cost of conducting meetings online provided greater opportunities for networking, mentorship, experiential learning, and career development, based on a course evaluations administered by MIT and the University of Tennessee, along with qualitative feedback from guest speakers and teaching staff. For example, Prof. Lo’s students could opt to moderate “fireside” chats with industry leaders, giving them the chance to network and develop mentors. Students also carried out short-term research projects for healthcare companies, which led to several job interviews.