Over the past year, the use of Seppo has become widespread in various vocational schools. The benefits of gamification in vocational college teaching have also been noticed by a long-time Seppo user, Laura Laakkonen, who currently works at the Diakonia College of Finland, on the Lahti campus as a pedagogical expert as part of the Didipeda team. Laura's main task at the moment is e.g. to support other teachers in taking advantage of digitalisation and developing learning environments. Laura has previously worked as a nursing teacher at the Salpaus Further Education and still a part of her weekly hours goes to teaching.
Laura has started using Seppo already years ago and Seppo has become a trusted comrade in her work. Indeed, he has diligently spoken in favor of gamification and has managed to get many of her colleague excited about it as well. One of the advantages of her current position is that part ofher weekly are clearly allocated to the implementation of digital tools, and thus when a new teacher is considering using Seppo, Laura is able to guide teachers through the first steps of using Seppo.
According to Laura, the best thing about Seppo is that it is easy to use. She herself admits that she was at first a little skeptical of Seppo and thinking that here we go, yet another complex tool for trachers to use. However, the surprise was positive and Seppo proved to be an easy tool. First of all, Laura advises new Seppo users to forget about too high expectations for their own games and encourages to start with simple stuff. As you gain experience, you can add functionality to games and test your own skills as a game maker.
Although with Seppo yo can build games with narrow topics and thus teach or test students' knowledge of a particular topic, Seppo can also be used to build larger entities, as has been done at the Deakonia College. Laura says they have built one whole learning space of professional nursing in Seppoo. The game also includes joint studies, for example, the Finnish language. The Deakonia College has quite a lot of students with an immigrant background who may need additional support in their studies.
According to Laura, when designing games with large entities, it is especially important to think about what level the students start from and how different levels of learners can be taken into account in the game.
Utilizing the levels in the game you can add challenge for the most advanced students. For example, completing the first or even the second level is the minimum expected from everyone and the other levels are optional. The Deakonia College has also made separate games, where one has, for example, assignments in more simple language and the game has been simplified, and the other game is a bit more demanding in terms of both design and language used.
As one of her favorite features in Seppo, Laura mentions the student instructor feature. With it students can be given their own instructor IDs to build the games themselves. Many of Laura’s colleagues have said that when students make games for each other themselves, the teacher gets a good idea of how the students have learned the topics. Teachers often also play the games made by students themselves and it is interesting to see what things the students themselves see as central to the topic. The student instructor feature also supports team learning, which is widely used in vocational colleges. Some students are even so enthusiastic about using Seppo that they have made games for the workplace during their own on-the-job learning periods.
When discussing Seppo's benefits in vocational school teaching, Laura points out that Seppo can easily be used to cheep up the atmosphere. Simply listening to a teacher gets boring quickly, so it’s easy to add a Seppo game in the middle of the day to add some variability to the school day. When you see the progress of different students in the game as an instructor, it is also easy to step in in situations where the student does not progress in the game for some reason. Even if you are teaching remotely, the possibility to comment and communicate through the game creates an atmosphere where you feel like you are playing together. Seppo is also well suited for the practical tasks of vocational teaching , Laura says:
In a lab, for example, using Seppo for tasks is actually much more convenient than even using papers for assignments and recording the answers.
On the secondary level, in vocational college use, Seppo has also proven to be a tool that encourages students to participate more. Laura says that the games have transformed the teacher's monologue into interactive learning:
“The quiet ones and those who never remotely open the computer mic have elicited really profound, thoughtful answers in the games. And even those with slightly weaker language skills, who are reluctant to speak Finnish, have with Seppo dared to use Finnish more and utilized for example the video answer option. ”
The lack of a certain kind of peer and time pressure when playing at home creates a safe environment in which many venture out of their shells.
Laura Laakkonen is an excellent example of a teacher who has boldly set out to try new things to improve teaching and the learning experience of her students. Thanks to her own experiences, she has also managed to get many colleagues excited about Seppo. It often requires nothing more than a little curiosity and patience to get to know Seppo and then there is no return!