In current educational debates, it is no longer just about endless basic discussions, but increasingly about how modern teaching and learning methods can be used in a beneficial way for schoolchildren. A term that emerged shortly after the turn of the millennium is “gamification”, also known as “game deficitation”, but the latter term did not catch on.
One school that has firmly integrated game-based learning into its institutional development is the Villa Wewersbusch in Velbert. The private school with connected internet knows how to motivate - and educate - the student body with the help of innovative school pedagogy.

What makes gamification so attractive for schools?

“Gamification” has long been more than a meaningless made-up word. From the hype that literally exploded with the organization of a scientific conference in 2011, industry-specific methods have developed: for companies and non-profit institutions, but also in the school sector. This is not - as was often assumed at first - about drifting thoughtlessly into game worlds. The difference between “gaming” and “gamification” lies in the goal setting. Game-based learning should promote important basic skills of students: teamwork, creativity, decisiveness, perception and concentration, and also learning itself.

The technical revolution is anchored in the school concept of Villa Wewersbusch as a matter of course:

“We believe technology can change the way we teach.
It can steer thinking in new directions. Provide impulses for new ideas. And yet the basis always remains the same: Commitment to learning. Because that's always what made us special. We pride ourselves on redefining teaching and learning together with teachers and learners. This includes the use of the latest technologies such as drones, robots and smart innovation sets. "

Online presence of Villa Wewersbusch

The methods of “gamification” in schools are mostly subtle. For example, students can work on tasks that are individually tailored to their capabilities directly on the computer, and they then receive points for completing them. Or they combine learning units with physical activity when fitness equipment invites you to “excursions into virtual worlds” through connected screens, in which learning content in biology, chemistry or technology is told based on a background story.   

It even gets really creative when the pupils slip completely into the roles of the game characters, thus conjuring their way through colorful fantasy worlds as magicians in order to be confronted with "schoolwork" at regular intervals. Character development plays a very special role in these cases, as the innovative "gamification" also behaves in a very classic way: Those who are rewarded for their learning progress remain motivated. In schools, playful learning elements can make a significant contribution to ensuring that pupils cram on their own initiative; because then, in a way, learning is really fun.

Entertaining learning software, sometimes referred to as “serious games”, is of course also available - but this then serves as a leisure activity related to learning.

The Villa Wewersbusch in Velbert relies on innovative methods

In the Velbert private school, the educational concepts seem to have arrived at the actual present: digital lessons, the focus on so-called 21st century skills and the use of mobile learning methods such as Apple's iTunes U make the student body fit for the future.

What enhances the effectiveness of modern school pedagogy at Villa Wewersbusch are small class groups that enable teaching staff to support students individually. Yes, that is a special feature that is rarely possible in this form at mainstream schools, but that is exactly what makes the private school offerings ultimately attractive for parents too.

Game-based learning in schools: Villa Wewersbusch in Velbert relies on media skills. Photo: Villa Wewersbusch
Game-based learning in schools: Villa Wewersbusch in Velbert focuses on media literacy. Photo: Villa Wewersbusch

An average of 16 pupils form a class at the Velbert private school with an attached boarding school. And every single class participant - including the teachers - is trained in how to use digital tools. What seems almost artificial in other schools should be reflected in the Villa Wewersbusch Integrate fluently into school lessons: researching with the tablet, learning independently - even consuming the daily news.

Where game-based learning is to be used methodically, media skills must be trained in advance, and this happens in private schools from the fifth grade onwards, parallel to the basic subjects. Apps are used regularly in the course of “gamification”, including well-known titles such as Minecraft. The aim is to promote joint learning, creative skills and freedoms, but also general education and basics.

"Technology can steer thinking in new directions." Photo: Villa Wewersbusch
"Technology can steer thinking in new directions." Photo: Villa Wewersbusch

When schoolchildren at Villa Wewersbusch fly over the extensive school grounds with app-controlled drones, it is not just for entertainment: schoolchildren should learn the increasingly important interaction between people and technology in a playful way - in order to learn from it for their lives.

Forward-looking all-day school 

Nowadays schools too are feeling the competition for students and prestige. It is no longer enough for a school to just be an educational institution that works in everyday school life because it imparts basic knowledge. Modern all-day schools must convince students and parents with their offers, offer added value, and also form the important bridge between school and parental education. How modern an all-day school is can already be seen in the equipment of the classrooms. The Villa Wewersbusch in Velbert provides the student body with all important work equipment: the most important thing is the iPad as the central teaching and learning tool. In addition, all classrooms are equipped with whiteboards, W-LAN, projectors and Apple TV.

The tablet is an essential tool at Villa Wewersbusch. Photo: Villa Wewersbusch
The tablet is an essential tool at Villa Wewersbusch. Photo: Villa Wewersbusch

The school offer is based on the requirements that are required in the modern world of work. Welcome additional offers at Villa Wewersbusch are the "clubs", which are thematically targeted and impart special skills to the schoolchildren. The fact that this area is also linked to the term “gamification” becomes clear when looking at the content of the clubs at the private school, because creative and technical offers such as LEGO Mindstorms do not at all fit in with the teaching units that “normal schools” offer .

In the end, the around 200 students at Villa Wewersbusch benefit from the courageous pedagogical approach, which shows that future-oriented school lessons can take place in a villa complex built in 1911.  

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