Abu Dhabi, UAE, 4 September 2019: A ground-breaking pilot of the Moral Education Programme (MEP) led by the Education Affairs Office of the Crown Prince Court, Abu Dhabi, and conducted by Arc Skills has shown how gamification can enhance the way young people learn important universal values.
The trial, which ran in six UAE schools and has never been attempted before, showed the huge potential of gamification and online technology with 98% of the students sample tested after the programme scoring over 70% in the pilot assessments.
The MEP is a unique strategic programme designed to develop children holistically in a world being rapidly transformed by technology and globalisation. It was launched in 2017 to promote universal values, tolerance, community spirit and compassion in pupils, together with an understanding and awareness of the culture of the UAE. Up until now, the mandatory programme for all schools has been taught through the traditional methods of teachers and textbooks.
Seeking to boost students’ engagement and outcomes with the new course, the Education Affairs Office partnered with Arc Skills to run a pilot gamified version of the MEP in select UAE schools.
Working closely with the Education Affairs Office, Arc Skills ran a pilot with 400 Grade 7 students in six UAE schools – Avalon Heights World Private School, GEMS Westminster School, Abu Dhabi International Private School, Dar Al Marefa Private School, Atika Bint Abdel Muttalib School for Girls and Umm Suqeim Model Girls School - for three months this year.
The recently completed pilot saw Arc Skills adapt the MEP course and teach its values through the use of an online platform combined with engaging team activities in class based around an online game, interactive quizzes and gamification that immersed students in an alternate world of superheroes and supervillains. This interactive game added a new element of fun to students’ learning and made the topics of the MEP – from making good decisions, responding to harmful situations, first aid, crime, trade, travel and communications, and globalisation – come alive in a new way.
Students engaged with weekly online modules including reading and quizzes that familiarised them with the MEP values. Afterwards, students worked as a team to strategize to progress and win an online game without teacher guidance or intervention.
“The children are interested in playing and they’re sneakily learning,” Sumayyah Ajem, an MEP teacher said. “They don’t realise how much they’re learning, but they are learning, so that’s really great. It’s nice to see them interacting with each other and being motivated to complete missions in ways they might not be motivated to complete their schoolwork sometimes.”
To test how well the gamified MEP pilot imparted values to students, a group of 232 students from four of the schools participated in a post-assessment multiple choice questionnaire. Of the students tested, 98% scored over 70%, showing that they had successfully learned the course material. Eight in 10 students scored 80% and above in the assessment. These students spent 50 to 90 minutes using the online platform before class activities and those who were the most engaged with it scored highest, showing that gamification is a highly effective method for imparting the MEP’s crucial values.
Andrew Wilson, Vice-Principal of GEMS Westminster School in Sharjah, praised the programme for motivating children and grabbing their attention because they found it fun, interesting and new.
“I love the fact that it’s a topic that’s important that is delivered in a way that students like to use and consume. That’s a fantastic way,” Mr. Wilson added.
Dr. Kishor Pillai, Director of Academics at Avalon Heights World Private School, said: “That is how 21st century learners want to study. I think the textbook is a gone method and interactivity and online is the newest method.”
Mohammad Al Neaimi, Director of the Educational Affairs Office, Crown Prince’s Court Abu Dhabi, said: “We are very interested in exploring the potential for innovative uses of modern technology to make learning fun and interactive, at the same time as deepening student immersion and comprehension in our Moral Education Programme.
“It was interesting for us to see how gamification helped enhance student engagement with our programme. However, there were a few challenges in the pilot and we are interested to see how those could be enhanced further in the future.”
Mithun Kamath, Group CEO of Arc Skills, said: “The Moral Education Programme is a vital way to ensure the children of today excel as the global citizens of tomorrow. It was a huge honour for us when we were approached by the Education Affairs Office of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to see if their ground-breaking programme could be enhanced through the gamified techniques we have been honing.
“That the Education Affairs Office of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi was open to trying such an innovative approach speaks volumes about the appetite to ensure the UAE is a world leader in using the latest pedagogy coupled with the latest technology to equip young people for the world they’re entering into.”