Teacher competencies in playful learning pedagogy

In a digitalised society with renewed curricula, successful integration of digital tools, play and games into teaching and learning depends on teachers’ ability to structure the learning environment in new ways, merge new technology with a new pedagogy, and develop socially active classrooms (see e.g. UNESCO, 2011). Research on playful learning environments shows that much depends on teachers’ pedagogical and emotional engagement how satisfied students’ are with the learning environment. It seems critical that the teacher is inspired and engaged in related pedagogical approaches (Kangas, Siklander, Randolph, & Ruokamo, 2017), and that (s)he has sufficient competencies.

Together with my colleagues from University of Jyväskylä we examined what kind of competencies teachers need in using games and playful elements in teaching and learning. In our conceptual framework, we defined four approaches for game-based pedagogy: using educational games, using entertainment games, learning by making games, and using gamification in learning. Playfulness was defined as central in game-based pedagogy. In the participating 15 classrooms, different game-based learning approaches and activities were implemented. Research data consisted of teachers’ documentation, thematic interviews and questionnaires related to the implementations.

We identified four main competence areas: pedagogical, technological, collaborative and creativeThe pedagogical area refers to competencies involved in making pedagogical choices throughout the process of teaching and learning in the game-based context. The technological area comprises issues related to aspects of technology-related competencies. The collaborative area relates to teachers’ ability and readiness to share and communicate content, ideas, practices and technological know-how. The creative area refers to competence manifests as the ability to take a playful stance, explore and improvise and as the teacher’s creative orientation towards self-development.

Based on the findings, we could conclude in the article that teacher competencies are increasingly important for research and policy development, with many related efforts currently ongoing. For example, the European Commission (2017) has been developing DigCompEdu, a framework for assessing educators’ digital competencies. Several competencies in the DigCompEdu proposal correspond to those identified in our study in the game-based pedagogical context

The full article is here:
Nousiainen, T., Kangas, M., Rikala, J. & Vesisenaho, M. (2018). Teacher Competences in Game-Based Pedagogy. Teaching and Teacher Education, 74, 85–97.

Kangas, M., Siklander, P., Randolph, J. & Ruokamo, H. (2017). Teachers’ Engagement and Students’ Satisfaction with the Playful Learning Environment. Teaching and Teacher Education, 63, 274–284.

UNESCO. (2011). UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers.

European Commission. (2017). Proposal for a European framework for the digital competence of educators (DigCompEdu).