Seppo enables teachers to create and share educational games in the classroom in order to make learning more engaging and exciting for students. Our exclusive interview with Mr. Tero Kulha highlights how important the implementation of gamification really is, and why more institutions need to jump on the trend.
How effectively would you say gamification helps enhance learning? Are students more interested in learning when games are involved?
First of all, students definitely are more interested in learning when games are involved. We see it over and over again among our learners and we can almost guarantee the students’ excitement when game-based learning is applied.
This is true especially if games are created for an authentic environment and some physical movement is included. This can happen inside the school, in the schoolyard, museum or a mall(!). Even if the games are played inside the classroom, the students are allowed to move, and they seem to take more responsibility for their own learning.
We don’t expect all the learning/teaching to happen through game-based learning, but on many occasions it certainly helps in keeping the focus, staying engaged and memorizing things more easily.
Should more schools in the UAE incorporate educational games into lessons?
We think that they – and all the schools – should do that. And it is not just games, but moving from traditional teaching (of the classroom, sitting at the desk, reading from books and listening to the teacher) towards active learning that includes new learning environments, more learning, less teaching, digital devices and services, collaboration, physical movement and game elements.
In a culture where gaming is viewed as inciting violence, how would you convince parents that games can benefit children?
It is very important to understand – and we do our best to make people understand it – that the concepts of gamification and game-based-learning don’t equal one-to-one with specific entertaining games. The idea of gamification is to apply game-like elements and practices into another field of life to create a positive impact. More focus, more motivation and thereby better learning.
In our case, for instance, the students don’t play any specific games alone against/with some software, but the teacher is involved in the learning process by supporting the students in real-time, giving feedback, grading the answers and allowing them to move around. This kind of activity is actually far away from that conception of “kids sitting and playing those games all the time”.
How has Seppo successfully implemented game-based learning in the UAE?
We have long-term successful implementations of Seppo in the UAE in schools, universities and foundations. We’ve received a fair amount of traction and there are great examples of pedagogically very smart games that are created by UAE teachers. Seppo has been tried or used in tens of UAE educational institutions.
In addition to educational institutions, there are many organizations (foundations, NGOs, etc) that have educational missions and targets and they want to use gamification to make their offering and message more compelling. We provide them with a tool and know-how.
And then there is the whole corporate world yet to be seen. We know that the same Magic of games works in corporate training as well as in schools. There are several areas (of corporate training) where gamification can add considerable value. Such as recruiting, onboarding (teacher induction), implementing/communicating strategy and values, and compliance to name a few.
Do you think game-based learning has revolutionized education today?
I wouldn’t necessarily say revolutionize, but it is a vital part of the inevitable change that schools are facing all around the globe. The world is changing very fast, but the change in schools has been very slow and is just picking up. The fact is that with traditional methods (mentioned above) we cannot equip our youth with the requirements of the 21st century.
A new way of learning needs to be brought into the picture. Finland is among the forerunners and Finnish pedagogical research has been working on these themes for a long time. Game-based learning is an important part of this new way of learning. And for students, it is probably the most attractive.
Mr. Tero Kulha is an experienced and versatile business leader with extensive knowledge of topics such as Business Development, Consulting, Information Management and Enterprise Architecture. His international career has taken place in organizations such as TeliaSonera (leading Nordic telecom operator), Meta Group and Gartner Group (International consulting companies) and Onninen (Leading Technical Wholesaler in Nordics).
Between 2010 and 2013, he was running a boutique consulting company that specialized in Enterprise Architecture. Since 2013, Mr. Kulha’s main role has been Partner and Chief Operating Officer of Lentävä Liitutaulu Ltd (a.k.a. Seppo) – an innovative international game-based learning specialist. In that role, he has been responsible for R&D, financing and business development. Tero Kulha also holds a Master of Science of Business Administration degree from Turku School of Economics.
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