Guest post – DigiLearn: Exploring gamification within nursing education

Published by Caroline Carlin on

Author: Mike Smith – Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing

I can remember all too well the sinking dread of being a student sat in a large lecture hall, watching a lecturer set up their 96 slides of mostly text for the 2-hour lecture I was about to be subjected to. What I can’t remember is what was covered in that session – something about the heart maybe?

Whilst I am not against lectures and they certainly have their place; they do have limited interaction, and I see them as being a useful means of one-way information delivery. Once upon a time, getting everyone into a room together to speak to them was the best way to do this. However, this is no longer the case. Whilst Covid19 and the problems it has brought with it have been challenging, and the lives lost to it are tragic, it has given us all a push towards doing things differently. One of the changes that I wanted to talk about here was in recording lectures as standard, and student feedback has been really positive about these. The more I adjust to this new normal, the more it seems alien to pack 500 people into a room to listen to someone deliver a presentation.

However, that in itself is not the sole focus of this blog. Whilst the shift in thinking that learning and teaching has to be different now is necessary, I am conscious that we don’t just revert back to the old ways of working when we are back in classrooms, and this seems a good opportunity to evaluate what works for students learning. Reading the blog posts about gamification, I was reminded of some of the more interactive ways of working which I have used in the past. One such way, used the PowerPoint hyperlink feature, to allow us as the group to work through the different sources of information, in the order that the students wanted to (see image below).

This allowed students to consider and rule out causes of ill health as new information was presented. Having a wireless Surface Pro allowed me to move around the room and be part of the discussion, rather than being tethered to the desk or having to run back to pick our next option. As a fairly recent initiate into tabletop role play games like Dungeons and Dragons (I know I’m a nerd!), I was inspired to bring the role play element into this – so students could ask the characters introduced on the slides any questions they wanted.

I did then develop a similar session for online use with some existing video resources, to allow students to form their opinions based on the questions and responses they could ask each of the characters. (see image below).

One thing I am keen to look out for is how we more fully engage this idea of gamification, combined with online working. Computer games have been shown to be an effective method of education at younger ages, but rarely do we see them in adult education – which is something I am keen to see and inspire others to also consider.


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