Saturday, February 20, 2016

Gamification for Learning Mathematics

As seen by the popularity of Whitehouse's push for Computer Science For All, gamification has been used very successful to promote basic computational thinking knowledge. There are indeed vast potentials in how gamification can be useful for teaching and learning of K-12 foundational subjects such as mathematics.  This is simply because, digital games on a digital computer and ideas of computing (and mathematics) are intimately related. The level of public reception and enthusiasm in the Whitehouse's Computer Science for All was reminiscent of the Nimrod when one of the earliest digital games (Nim) was put into a digital computer and went on a whirlwind roadshow tour in 1951.

Recently, we gave a talk on Ed-tech on gamification for learning mathematics at an entrepreneurship symposium at the City University of Hong Kong (see Facebook photos). We had the pleasure to share with the audience our Algebra Game gamification software and our idea of a Gamification Foundry. This Gamification Foundry is essentially a data analytics platform driven by cloud computing that can serve as a new two-way educational technology in the era of personalized learning.

With this Gamification Foundry, children players can:
  • learn elementary mathematics by playing brilliantly-crafted games.
  • “see” the source-code and remix them to create game variants to enhance their computational thinking skills.
Teachers are always in the loop. Educators can gain insights to these learning processes that can be analysed by big data analytics. Children’s online game-playing learning behavior can be integrated into offline classroom teaching under the supervision of their teachers. We are engineering this gamification foundry as a way to personalize the learning of mathematics and even computer science. 

Beyond enhancing numeracy and computational thinking skills, we also hope to explore whether our Algebra Game software can be useful to children with dyscalculia – a math disability in learning or comprehending arithmetic (estimated to be one in twenty). It was suggested that computer games can diagnose and treat dyscalculia in a recent Nature article Dyscalculia: Number games, Nature 493, 150–153 (10 January 2013).

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