As the academic year is coming to a close, there is a collective sigh of relief from students, parents, and educators. From navigating a pandemic, balancing virtual and in-person classes, and continually changing protocol, nothing about this year was standard. As educators start to plan for in-person classes next year, it can be tempting to go back to the way things were before the pandemic. However, in many ways, the increase in the utilization of technology in education proved to benefit students, particularly with the use of virtual tools and gamification learning. Here are four reasons why educators should continue to incorporate virtual tools and gamification learning in the classroom, even after we return to “normal.”

#1: Encourages Creativity

 This year, students of all ages gained some degree of expertise in virtual tools. This opens the door to endless possibilities for future assignments. Goodbye, boring projects! Rather than tasking students with a standard written report, why not give them the power to choose among several technology-based options for the delivery method? This allows students’ creativity to soar and express themselves through their work. Options such as making a video, visual presentation, or infographic with tools like ‘Vimeo’‘Prezi’, or ‘Canva’ can be modified to meet grade-level abilities. Additionally, understanding how to better manipulate these tools requires problem-solving, further pushing students’ creative thinking skills. 

#2: Collaboration and Communication Among Students

During distance learning, students were able to communicate more frequently and efficiently through the introduction of new virtual tools and games. Game-based learning or gamification learning proved to be a fun way to get students collaborating with their peers. Gamification promotes conversation, problem-solving, and teamwork among students. The skill of collaboration is important for children to acquire, so implementing it often sets them up for success later in life. Additionally, utilizing tools such as ‘Flipgrid’ during distance learning allowed students to interact with their actual classmates rather than text on a screen. As we move back into an in-person learning environment, continuing to facilitate video discussions for homework assignments will allow students to build their interpersonal and communication skills. 

#3: Increases Engagement 

Student engagement was undoubtedly one of the biggest hurdles educators had to overcome during distance learning. The hard truth is, if students are not interacting, they are likely not listening. Using virtual tools and games provided an avenue to overcome that obstacle. It allowed students to interact with the content they were learning, not just hear or see it. Furthermore, there is ample evidence supporting the fact that interacting with new information  increases knowledge retention. This is particularly beneficial for kinesthetic learners who need that hands-on participation to absorb information. As we move back in person, continue to integrate games and tools like ‘Kahoot’‘Factile’, and ‘Nearpod’ into lessons to balance teaching and engage students. 

#4: Makes Learning Fun!

Learning is meant to be an enjoyable, engaging, and rewarding experience. With the countless online learning tools and games available, lessons can come to life in meaningful ways for students. Students have more fun gaining knowledge when learning is approached in new, exciting, and relatable ways. For example, the application ‘Classcraft’ uses video game mechanics to turn lessons into quests, enticing students to advance in their academics. Educational applications that include competitive aspects like high scores or rewards tend to motivate students, so they are more excited to play. Returning to in-person may result in a decrease in technology use compared to distance learning. However, this allows students to get excited by the introduction of new virtual tools and games in the classroom. 

Returning to a somewhat “normal” year next fall is going to look different from school to school. However, by continuing to leverage technology, you can ensure students are welcomed back to an exciting learning environment. Additionallyit is crucial to consider what virtual tools your school is leveraging to optimize your processes. Schola equips your school with the best tools to boost engagement, enrollment, and student retention. Claim your FREE school profile to unlock access to several marketing tools and improve education outcomes for your school!