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Making IL Fun: Using Games in Teaching

This ‘Games in Teaching’ blog post and Twitter competition is brought to you by our guest contributors:

Nicola Dennis Nicola Dennis – Business & Law Information Specialist at Aston University.

I am a member of the Library Induction Group and teach students from undergraduate, through to research level.  We primarily use online voting software and games within our Induction sessions and 1st year UG workshops.  However, I also use voting software in any teaching sessions where I am in a lecture environment and the only technology on hand is the mobile phone.

Kate Grigbsy Kate Grigsby – Senior Library Skills Advisor at the University of Sheffield

I am part of the Library Learning Services Unit and I teach taught students on the self-elective Information and Digital Literacy workshop programme. We use paper based games such as card matching activities and interactive quizzes in our programmes. We also reflect this in our online Information Skills Resource.

Certain elements of Information Literacy can be difficult to make interesting. For example, trying to engage new students learning about the basics of a University Library Service, teaching students information literacy skills in large lecture halls or focusing on the detail of academic referencing.  All of these are examples of teaching an essential academic skill but something that students can find tedious or even scary. How do you break the ice and make these sessions enjoyable and engaging?

In the Induction programme at Aston University Library, the students begin in the Library workshop room before visiting the Learning Development Centre and finishing with demos of our self service facilities.  As the students arrive, they watch very short fun videos including a Rules and Regulations using Cyril The Squirrel as our “new student”.  One of the Induction prizes included having to find Cyril in the Library and post a selfie with him via our Twitter account.

Cyril reads the rules and regulations.

We then combined a series of informative Prezi slides highlighting reading lists and our discovery tool with an opportunity for students to interact and give us their opinion.  We used Poll Everywhere as an interactive tool.  Although you can use the free version it limits the number of responses so we opted to pay for a one month subscription and allow everyone in the Induction session to participate.

Poll Everywhere Results Word Cloud
Poll Everywhere Results Word Cloud

For example, the first question asks them to send through two words they think of when they hear “Library Service” and the responses form into a word cloud.  We use this information to create an information display for 1st year students later on in the term.

Cyril plays 'Buzz Off'!
Cyril plays ‘Buzz Off’!

At the University Fresher’s fair we also used games to engage students to find out more about the Library Service and to attend their Induction session.  We used two games which we swapped throughout the day.  The first game was “Target” where students were tasked to throw table tennis sized balls covered in velcro and had to stick to a picture of what students can do within a Library Building.  The second game was “Buzz Off” where students competed against each other answering a series of questions about the Library Service.  Prizes were on offer which we obtained from local shops, suppliers and University services.  Here is Cyril playing the “Buzz Off” Quiz

Within our referencing workshops at the University of Sheffield we use This free web based application allows us to make a competitive quiz that students individually join with their device. The quiz tests their prior knowledge of referencing and plagiarism but also opens up a dialogue to discuss the process. The competitive and gamification aspects also break the ice with students and stimulate engagement.

We have also used the quiz in staff training to raise awareness of our Information Skills Workshops and it was a hit! Staff were really engaged and it increased their confidence in terms of referencing knowledge as well as introducing a playful and competitive element to the training.

How are you introducing playful elements into your teaching? We would like to compile examples as part of Global MIL Week. Please share photos of how you’ve incorporated play and games into your teaching with #GlobalMILWeekGames and you could win some fizz and chocolates!

Games in Teaching – Twitter Prize Draw

Twitter Competition
Image: Alan O’Rourke via Flickr. CC:BY

We want to celebrate Global Mil Week by hearing about your innovative MIL teaching!

To enter our competition, tweet a picture of you using games in your teaching, using the hashtag #GlobalMILWeekGames between 25th October – 1st November 2017.

Entrants will be entered into a prize draw to win a box of chocolates and prosecco. Prize will be posted to your chosen address. If you choose not to have prosecco. chocolates of an equivalent value will be sent.

Competition Rules

  1. By entering the competition you are consenting to have your name and picture publicly displayed on and on CILIP ILG’s social media channels without prior consent. Please ensure you have consent from any participants in the photo.
  2. The winner will be notified by direct tweet message by 3rd November  2017 and will be publicly announced via CILIP ILG’s social media channels and website.
  3. One entry per person.
  4. Sorry, CILIP ILG committee members, you are are not eligible to enter the competition. (That includes you, sub-committee members!)

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