Teacher as a game maker – Part 2

What do the teachers think about Seppo and making games? What kind of Seppo games do teachers make? Seppo-themed master's thesis did some research on it! This two-part blog post opens up the research findings and lessons learned. Get ready for Part 2!
Gamification | Learning games

Teacher as a game maker – Part 2

In the previous blog post, I talked about what kind of experiences teachers had with making Seppo games. Perhaps an even more interesting question is what kind of games teachers have made with Seppo and how teachers have taken advantage of Seppo’s functionalities in their games. In the interview, I asked the teachers to select two games they had made and present them to me. All in all, I was introduced to 28 games.

Learning new things, reviewing and tests

The teachers had made the games for very different purposes. The objectives of the games were usually carefully considered and the games were largely based on the objectives of the curriculum. Games had been used both for learning new things and for revising already learned topics. In addition, several teachers had used Seppo for exams and tests.

Most of the example games were related to the topics of a particular subject, such as grammar, historical events, or phenomena in physics. There were also several games, in which different subjects were combined or in which the contents of the phenomenon period were dealt with (phenomenal learning). Many teachers also mentioned practicing a wide range of skills as the goal of the game. One teacher, for example, said that the main goal of his game was for the students to learn to travel into the city center and visit the museum independently, among many other things. Thus the most important thing was to practice everyday skills, instead of the content of a particular subject. Indeed, many teachers felt that the Seppo games supported naturally the learning of a wide range of skills and 21st-century skills.

Students take an active role

According to my interviews, the student-centered way of working and the diversification of teaching were important reasons for using Seppo games in teaching. It was felt that the games motivate and encourage students to work actively. In the game assignments, students were often instructed to do independent research, and information retrieval, and they were expected to apply what they learned and produce their answers in the form of text, video, audio, or image. The games were mainly played in teams because playing together was seen as motivating students and peer support was seen as important for learning.

From the school desk to the forest and art museum

The interviews clearly highlighted that the goal of the teachers was to break down the boundaries of the traditional learning environment, regardless of the subject. In almost all of the games, the learning spaces expanded outside the classroom, and in most games, the game was based on a live map or a floor plan. Teachers appreciated the opportunity to be able to add functionality into the school day and to link learning with an authentic environment. The games included for example, studying French at an art exhibition, learning historical figures from the statues of central Helsinki, chemistry in the school’s vicinity, functional mathematics in the school yard, and taking the final test of a forest-themed phenomenon, which of course took place in the forest. In conclusion, the Seppo game enabled teachers to move learning more easily outside the classroom and thus meet the requirements of the curriculum basics.

A story game or orienteering?

In the context of gamification, the Seppo games made by the teachers differed a lot from each other. In some of the games, the focus was on storytelling and the plot led players from one challenge to another. Most commonly, the story was related to an adventure in some unknown time or place – traveling by a time machine or exploring.

However, most of the games were related to the real world with no background story. Not all of the teachers considered the Seppo games to be actual games, but rather challenges or checkpoint tracks. However, game elements such as teamwork, advancing on levels, surprise tasks, time pressure, competitiveness, and playful tasks brought gamefulness to Seppo. Game elements were seen as important stimulators for students, although many teachers placed more emphasis on student activation, functionality, and teaching diversification. Seppo is liked by the teachers because, with it, it is possible to make a game that fits perfectly your own purpose- be it a checkpoint track or a plot adventure.

I became even more excited about Seppo after seeing the variety of ways that the teachers had used it.

I hope this post gave you some ideas for making games too! You can find more inspiration in Seppo’s game library, where teachers have shared their games for free use.

-Maarit Röynä

Source: Röynä, M. (2019). ”Oppilaat ylös penkeistä ja vaihtelua päivään”. Seppo-peli opetustyökaluna. Pro gradu -tutkielma, Helsingin yliopisto