Why it’s far from game over for gamification in parent communications
Gamification is where the typical elements of game playing, such as point scoring, competition with other players and rules of play are incorporated into other activities. Many schools have long made use of techniques to power this strategy, such as fun maths programmes to support children in learning their times tables. And in today’s modern world, digital game-based apps, such as Kahoot, for example, are being integrated into lessons, offering an effective way to not just boost pupil engagement, but also to measure pupils’ engagement levels in class.
In some cases, even virtual reality is being utilised to immerse students in a new topic. Now, however, we’re starting to see parents brought into the equation, with new strategies emerging to help encourage them to better engage with their children’s education.
Today, more and more parents use digital apps and social media to communicate with friends, family and even businesses. It means that expectations have heightened when it comes to how they prefer to interact with their child’s school as well, adding pressure on schools to adopt more modern communication techniques. Having typically used traditional methods to contact parents in the past, such as letters or email, these changing expectations can present a challenge for educational institutions. However, this challenge can be turned into an opportunity with the right technology in place.
With digital games something many parents today are accustomed to, gamification can help encourage two-way engagement and act to reach elusive parents as well. If schools can’t get in touch with those hard-to-reach individuals, perhaps due to a language barrier, they usually have to explore other means of communicating messages, which can be a costly and time-consuming burden on school staff. But gamification strategies can be adapted to help reach those people, and also act as an incentive to encourage more parents to become more involved with their child’s education.
Getting parents involved
There are a few ingenious examples of where parent engagement is already being encouraged with gamification. Say the school in question wants more parents to download Weduc’s Reach More Parents app so they can communicate important messages to them in the future. Schools can set a homework task for the students to encourage their parents to download it, with the first class to achieve this recognised in the school assembly or being rewarded. It’s all about healthy competition.
Once more parents become users of the app, it’s then easier for schools to run further initiatives that directly involve them. It could be that the first parent to comment on a post on the school’s feed is the recipient of a free uniform for their child. Many schools have also operated a points or rewards system to recognise the achievements of students, such as demonstrating their core values.
Here is another opportunity for parents to be engaged by utilising the app to highlight where their child has demonstrated these values at home, making teachers aware of this and creating consistency between their personal and educational life. There are even functionalities available that can be used to encourage parents and their children to engage in gamification together. Our Home Learning feature, for example, gives teachers the ability to set, track and mark tasks while awarding points, keeping parents in the loop at the same time.
For those hard-to-reach parents, gamification offers another method to encourage engagement. If awards or certificates are being provided to competition winners, pictures of these items being posted on the feed are a lot more engaging and easily understandable for parents who may not speak English for example. Additionally, by leveraging data from parents who have previously engaged with a strategy, future gamification strategies can also be targeted to certain individuals or devised in a way to reach more people.
Gamification brings numerous benefits, but there are a couple of considerations that schools should be aware of when pursuing this strategy. One is the monitoring of comments when channels are opened up to parents for competitions or other initiatives. It’s important to make sure that a bit of healthy competition doesn’t become too competitive between parents. Privacy of the information being shared is also critical when it comes to the students themselves. With our technology, schools can check communications and shut down comments when needed, while information shared is kept within our safe and secure platform.
A key tool for engagement
Gamification is a vital tool to encourage both student and parent engagement. By being able to pull a variety of information from the ReachMoreParents platform, schools have the opportunity to pursue gamification strategies such as competitions, polls and rewards to bring more parents into the frame. Moving forward, parents will want to see everything in one place and our technology provides the opportunity for school-wide data to be used to drive those initiatives and set benchmarks for success. See more about the functionalities of our platform here.