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Training online EMI Higher education teachers on gamification techniques: the ins and outs
Gamification in Higher education is an attractive strategy with great potential both for teachers and students (Flores Abreu, 2021). Recently, there has been an increase in research on this topic around the globe (Trinidad et al., 2021) and from different fields of study that also include second language learning (Santamaría & Alcalde, 2019). The possibilities of this methodology go beyond its application in the face-to-face environment, as research has demonstrated its potential also in online English learning scenarios (Santamaría & Alcalde, 2020). Although attractive and motivating for students, university teachers show slight scepticism to its use in their classrooms, mainly due to four drawbacks: loss of motivation, difficulty in classroom management, technological problems, and waste of time (Pektaş & Kepceoğlu, 2019). In English medium instruction (EMI) synchronous online lectures (SOLs), one of the main challenges teachers find is to keep students engaged during the sessions (Querol-Julián, 2021). The use of English as a lingua franca and the virtual setting are important constraints that influence learners’ participation in EMI SOLs (Querol-Julián, Forthcoming). This study supports gamification as one of these lecturers’ strategies to enhance students’ engagement during online lessons. We present the methodology employed in a Spanish online university to train lecturers on how to gamify their sessions successfully. This paper aims to show how, through a training period based on teachers coaching and mentoring (Santamaria-Urbieta & Querol-Julián, 2020), we can raise awareness and promote the use of gamification. We also present this training program’s preliminary results that show EMI online lecturers how to include gamifying elements for the first time in their sessions. Results show the evolution experienced by the teachers, the difficulties presented, and their needs. We focus on their lack of technological knowledge and preliminary uses of quizzes, escape rooms, and challenges, among others, and the difficulties encountered to promote language learning through content.
Alexandra is a Professor at the online Spanish university Universidad Internacional de La Rioja. Her research interests focus on innovation, translation, and language learning, among others. She currently teaches subjects related to the use of CAT tools in translation, tourist translation, bilingual education and the teaching of the English language as a foreign language.