Traditional teaching methodologies are no longer adequate, in and of themselves, to meet the needs of students in today’s technologically engaged, interactive, and connected society. It was with this need in mind that, in 2006, the European Parliament recommended that students develop eight key competencies over the course of their compulsory education to prepare them for success in their working life. One of these is Digital Competency (DC), which opens to them the doors of digital technology and gives them opportunities to be actively involved in the new, twenty-first century knowledge society. Likewise, in its “Rethinking Education” strategy (2012), the European Commission has urged educational institutions to be diligent about integrating DC. So, as those responsible for instruction, we must be capable of accompanying them in this stage of education. Through gamification and the development of computational thinking, we can cover the content of the educational curriculum.
The primary feature of gamification is the application of game-design elements in non-game contexts. In this way, instruction that might be tedious and not very motivating, under traditional didactic methods, becomes appealing and inspiring. Games are instructional by nature, so this is a way of learning by doing. On the one hand, games develop essential competencies, such as observation, decision-making, speed, empathy, and intuition; on the other hand, they provide a controlled learning environment in terms of not only content but also moral values, frustration tolerance, internalization of rules, and strategies for success.
Gamification is not to be confused with video games (Parente, 2016), for gamification consists of presenting students with games, usually on a digital platform, that are centered on specific content and that students view as a challenge (Ripoll, 2016). This is how students develop Computational Thinking (Wing, 2006), which the Royal Society (2012) defines as “the process of recognising aspects of computation in the world that surrounds us, and applying tools and techniques from Computer Science to understand and reason about both natural and artificial systems and processes.”
In this edition of the Congress, we are aiming to focus the educational community’s interest on this groundbreaking field of gamification-based teaching methodologies. There is a great opportunity here to share and try out strategies for improving students’ motivation and to incorporate these strategies into our daily teaching activities.