Co-create social gamification cards to promote the joy of reading in school

The first-ever MOE Learning Buildathon brought educators and the Singapore community for best ideas to promote the joy of learning. Organized by GovTech and the Ministry of Education, this event sought to re-imagine and co-create learning resources that would enable learning that is fun and fulfilling in Language, STEM, and the Humanities & Arts.

Attended by more than 180 participants, top 20 teams was then selected to pitch during the event and selected 10 teams attended final held during MOE ExCEL Fest.

Our team, which consists of 4 primary school educators and 2 technologists are coming together to address questions “How might we motivate students to explore, beyond their classrooms, into the online spaces and the world around them? How do we harness their natural curiosity and also help curate online content for them?”

Our team eventually decided to focus in broadening one’s horizons and promoting the joy of readings as a important vehicle for engaging with disciplinary thinking, ideas and concepts. Reading ability has been considered as basic skill to success in school (Taylor et al 1992) - it is correlated with language proficiency and academic achievement. The ability to read facilitates learning and as a result, students who love reading would be able to progress more quickly.

However, there has been considerable decline in book and recreational reading with increasing age. Most do not find reading as stimulating as audio-visual content and prefer watching TV or online videos. A survey conducted by the National Arts Council from 2015 to 2016 found only 44 per cent of respondents aged 15 and above had read at least one literary book. Meanwhile, recent study by the National Library Board in 2016 found fewer numbers of young adult library users with the number of visitors and book loans have both declined steadily since 2012. This was despite 80 per cent agreeing that reading enabled people to learn new things, and 72 per cent believing that reading improved their quality of life.

School has indeed playing an important role in teaching information literacy, critical consumers of information and shaping children’s love of reading as a lifelong learning habit. MOE has taken active steps to promote reading in schools, such as the School-Based Reading Intervention Model (SBRIM) and Extensive Reading (ER) Programme. It is still questionable whether students were only reading for school-work instead of pleasure. Research found that only one-quarter of the children borrow books from school library as compared 34 percent of the children were getting their leisure reading books from public libraries or bookstores. Other observations noted library was underutilized and students were not going to the library to read.

Idea: BOOKEMON

Based on above challenges, our team explored the idea of “Creating reading community through ICT Gamification”. Study 1 noted book recommendation between students has the potential to enhance reading interest and ability; but its benefits are reliant upon extensive and frequent student interaction. The current approach is typically to implement online portal to support classroom reading and help students express their ideas, opinions and thoughts to their peers, both in and out of school time. But limited access to IT resources during school period and increase of screen rather than in-person exchange of book recommendation inhibits its effectiveness. Based on this consideration, we reframed our design challenge into “How might we take the joy of sharing and recommending books in school?”

We were particularly inspired with NLB success in launching Quest Card reading programme in 2009 to tackle the declining library loans and converting reluctant readers, particularly boys aged 7-12 years to become readers and lifelong learners. The programme leveraged on trends in collecting collectible cards, reading fantasy adventure stories and manga. It resulted over 4.5 million quest cards redeemed and generated over 5.5 million loans with a total of about 220,000 participants.

Combining NLB approach with recent gaming phenomenon “Pokemon Go”, our team proposed gamification of collectible cards that the students can use to play, challenge and exchange with their friends as they borrow and read books from school library.

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