Chapter 2 - Interactive Environments for Involvement and Motivation for Learning
Technological development is undoubtedly decisive in promoting change and innovation in education. Over the last few years ICT has been seen as key to the most innovative and interesting educational experiences at all levels – from kindergarten to end point education – in both informal and formal education. If we analyse the recent history of educational innovation, we can observe that the majority of new developments are based on technology enhanced learning environments. These technologies are the basis of the most important changes in education. However, we must not forget the relevance of methodologies and of the whole educational system, which is made up of many influencing factors.
In this chapter, we are going to explore this evolution by analysing the shift in users' roles from the perspective of the fact that technologies have progressively increased the interaction between users and applications (instrumental interaction), as well as within users (cognitive interaction). In this way processes have gradually become more flexible, adaptable and personalized.
In addition, we will analyse how these technological tools promote interactive environments where students can learn, and which can increase their motivation as well as their interaction and engagement in learning processes. Moreover, these environments are useful not only for teaching or motivation, but also for other educational aims, such as preventing bullying or cyberbullying. We have collected some practical examples and good practices about these issues.
We live in the ICT era - the digital age. This is a time when technologies play a key role in the history of humanity. It is necessary to recognize that technologies have a direct influence on other factors, such as the economy, social development, science, politics and education. All of these elements comprise a complex framework that explains both our evolution and our current situation. This is a socio-systemic approach where technologies play a crucial role in the definition of our status and lives. It is integral to our work, our home and our relationships with others. Everything in our lives is influenced by technologies.
If you are over a certain age, you can probably remember when we did not have the Internet or smartphones, or any of the technology familiar to us in the present day. We could survive, of course, but very differently. If we talk to young people in developed countries, they tell us they could not give up their on-line smartphone existence. Moreover, they would have problems being without their smartphones for just one day. Suggest it to any young person around you and they would think that you are mad.
Therefore, technologies are part of our lives. For this reason, the European Commission argues the need to improve our digital competences as citizens in the Europe of the present century.
There is no argument about the relevance of technologies at the current time, because the statistics are evident. However, we can discuss the educational impact and the use of technologies for education. In this sense, it would be relevant to agree on some viewpoints. We live in the digital era so we need to learn the uses of technologies, and schools must answer this real need. Schools must incorporate technologies as everyday tools. Technologies must be part of our daily environment in education – as invisible technologies, because they are part of our social context. We know what we can do with them in our lives, so we need to learn their educational potential. Both games as tools and gamification as strategy can be relevant as part of these tools with which to teach and learn. These are the main ideas in this chapter, but the central concept is "interactivity". In a book about videogames it is vitally important to think about interactivity and its implications. Videogames can be a powerful educational tool, not only the serious games created with educational objectives but also videogames in general, because we need to understand the combination of formal and informal processes of learning in a world which is technology driven.