Using Games and Digital Stories for Assessing Students’ Learning

Evaluation practices are applied in every educational setting. All higher education curricula include the knowledge, skills, and competencies, learners must have at the end of every course. Traditional assessment methods are well-established and have been used in education for many years. These methods included multiple-choice questions, questions, essays, matching exercises, oral examinations, practical assessments, projects, portfolios, and tests. Although they are practical, and present the test score easily, they have some limitations in assessing creativity and thinking skills.

The diverse needs of learners nowadays, and the necessity for skills and competencies of the 21st century, have reformed the traditional learning offered in formal settings. Now, learners participate equally, in non-formal, and informal learning environments for personal development and life-long learning. Additionally, digital literacy empowers learners to access technology and online resources effectively. Technology and online learning have the potential to offer equal opportunities and inclusiveness in education including quality assurance.  To maintain quality assurance in online education, up-to-date assessments are challenging issues.

We all know that individuals value their skills and competencies every day.   All educational outputs, practices, and activities are assessed to present a clear measure of the learner’s performance. Quantitative and qualitative indicators are used to support the assessment process.  Originality of ideas, collaboration, societal engagement, interaction with educational societies, publications, new teaching methods, and trans-disciplinary approaches are among the widely used assessment tools.

As the number of learners is increasing day by day assessments are becoming a need for our society. Reliability and accuracy of the assessment must be combined with the ability of the learners to present their real knowledge, skills, and competencies gained from a course.

Educators acknowledge the variety of tools for assessments, but the problem that still exists is how to find the right assessment for every learner, and every learning environment.

Digital stories and games are effective tools for the evaluation process, as they align with 21st-century skills. Especially, they offer interactive knowledge quizzes, scenario-based or gamified online assessments, ongoing formative assessments, decision-make assessments, and self-assessments. Through digital stories and games, students and life-long learners can test their understanding of a subject, their ability to articulate their thoughts and their personal experiences or interests with others, and their ability to analyze a real problem and communicate their thoughts with others.

Particularly, digital games, show in a way the motivation of learners in digital environments. Digital games are used as evaluation tools, at any stage of the course, in formal, non-formal, and informal learning, as they provide immediate feedback to learners, and help them learn from their mistakes. Additionally, they assess the ability of learners to communicate, collaborate, have effective time management, and have divergent thinking.

Digital stories offer a safe environment for learners to practice and apply their digital skills.  Learners demonstrate their understanding of a subject, via their own digital stories which include several multimedia elements.  Using digital stories, for assessment, learners also demonstrate their critical thinking skills and their creativity skills which include cognitive, behavioral, and interpersonal abilities to solve problems and produce original outcomes. Through the media elements used and the art or scenario they apply, learners demonstrate their ability to visualize and manipulate ideas and concepts. 

There are many game-based tools for assessment, and they include Kahoot, for quiz-based games, Socrative, for real-time assessments and polls, Quizziz, for quiz-based games, Classcraft for tracking learners’ participation, Worldwall for classroom games, quizzes, and puzzles. All these tools offer innovative ways to evaluate learners ‘performance.

Digital storytelling tools for assessment includes many multimedia elements and amongst them are the well-known, Canva for creating digital stories, Padlet for collaborative stories and presentation, Wevideo for video, Google slides for multimedia-rich presentations and digital slides, Storyjumber and  Make-beliefs-comix for digital stories.

There are many examples of the practical implementation of digital storytelling and games for assessing learning outcomes in all educational settings. According to many authors, creating rubrics for assessing digital stories and games can help educators and learners in the learning process. 

The most common rubrics used for the assessment of digital stories and games include the following criteria:

  • creativity of the story,
  • user-friendly games,
  • the educational content of the story or game to demonstrate understanding of the subject,
  • presentation of the subject,
  • multimedia elements used,
  • the technical proficiency of the game or digital story (e.g. how well-structured are the levels of games, efficiency),
  • and overall the quality of the story or the game ( i.e. the concept, and the ethical issues used).

In conclusion, to redesign education and assessments, online stories, and games are useful evaluation tools for the skills of the 21st century and educators must adapt rubrics to specific learning objectives they want to assess.

Written for OEB Global 2023 by Jenny Pange.

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