[SocioCult] Developing teaching resources for San Martín Duraznos Mixtec through gamification

Event Date: 

Friday, February 15, 2019 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Event Location: 

  • South Hall 3605
The gamification of learning is an educational approach that introduces game elements in learning environments. In the context of second language acquisition, gamification has been shown to enhance language learning by promoting engagement and encouraging repetition. For example, Gonzales (2017) demonstrates how the process of learning vocabulary can be improved through interaction with digital tools and games, and well-designed, gamified experiences encourage learners to repeat activities until they can achieve their desired outcome and improve their performance (Crow, 2015). Such strategies to enhance students’ engagement are referred to as ‘Flow’ (Nakamura & Csikszentmihalyi, 2014) and they comprise measures to make sure the difficulty of activities increases as learners acquire skills, thus preventing frustration, anxiety, and drop-off. Platforms that focus on language learning and promote multilingualism, such as Duolingo, Beelinguapp and Rosetta Stone, make use of several of these strategies, but they do not necessarily promote language use or literacy within a community.
In this paper, we present the process used for ongoing development of a website with teaching resources for San Martín Duraznos Mixtec (Otomanguean) through gamification. The project is built on a partnership between linguists, Mixtec community members in California, and instructional technology designers, and is carried out with limited financial resources. All materials are elaborated taking a community-based approach (Cruz & Woodbury, 2014; Czaykowska-Higgins, 2009), and all the technology used is open-access and mobile-friendly. Access through cellphones is critical as smartphone traffic on websites now exceeds desktop traffic (We Are Social StatCounter, n.d.).
The activities are developed using Educaplay, an open-access platform that presents teaching materials as recreational learning activities. Once designed, activities are embedded into
the website using an <iframe src> attribute that the platform generates automatically. Importantly, the different activities available on the platform can be used to address different components of language: from spelling to vocabulary to grammar and discourse. Activities incorporate visual and audio stimuli that enhance the learning process. Moreover, activities are organized in collections of topics and semantic fields, which help the learner consolidate the vocabulary and structures acquired in previous activities.
The tools display considerable flexibility, as activities can be duplicated and then modified to represent other languages or varieties, and they can be embedded in other community language websites. Thus, this work presents a template for the creation of digital tools for language advocacy and learning that are accessible, economical, and which requite relatively little technical expertise to create.