Mission Accomplished: Teachers trained in online gamification strategies
(From left) Patrecia Heath-Hayles, Vice Principal, Old Harbour Bay Primary; Winsome Hines-Bailey, teacher, Servite Primary; and Kheelia Blake, teacher, Bethlehem Primary School.

Teachers across the island are hailing the online gamification engagement strategies, recently shared by Flow, as fun activities that will help improve class participation and learning.  More than 200 primary school teachers, representing 54 schools from across all 14 parishes, participated in the virtual sessions which were hosted daily by Flow employee volunteers during the company's Mission Week initiative from November 15 - 19, 2021.

Mission Week is an annual company-wide series of virtual and physical community outreach events and activities, led by Flow employee volunteers. This year, it was executed across four corporate social responsibility pillars – Learning, Environment, Access and Disaster Relief.  The gamification strategies training fall under its learning pillar.

Winston Smith, President of the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA), shared that the training is aligned with the organisation's focus on driving the digital transformation of its membership.  He was very pleased with the engagement of the teachers and the outcome of the sessions.

“Flow must be commended for the initiative to organize these sessions which will help to significantly enhance the ability of our primary school teachers to maintain the engagement of their students during online classes,” Smith said. “This is a challenge that many teachers and students face, particularly in the current environment, where most are participating in online learning. Flow has been providing strong support to our teachers via its free certified training programmes and now these sessions. We are very appreciative as we continue the efforts to educate our nation's children.”

According to Kayon Mitchell, Communications Director at Flow and Executive Director at the Flow Foundation, the sessions were in response to concerns raised by the teachers.

“Supporting education and enabling the progress of our children are key areas of interest for us and so, Mission Week was a great opportunity for us to continue our work in these areas through gamification, which is applying game elements to enhance the engagement and learning of students. Since January, we've upgraded the internet speeds at over 250 schools and donated tablets to over 300 students. This was another way of supporting our teachers and students during this challenging time.  We're happy with the reception of the teachers who are now eager to share these strategies with their colleagues,” Mitchell stated.

Highlighting the work of the volunteers, she continued, “Volunteerism is part of our DNA at Flow and our team members committed to being prepared for the webinars.  They attended the briefing sessions and added their own touches to make the sessions fun for the teachers too.”  

Nicholas Amore, who was among the Flow volunteers, shared how he felt great joy at seeing the teachers' excitement as he engaged them in the gamification online teaching session.

“The project brought together two of my passions – teaching and volunteerism. The response and enthusiasm from the teachers were rewarding and I am just really grateful that I could be a part of this awesome initiative,” said Amore.

The gamification platform uses the format of popular television game shows, such as Jeopardy and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. It is fully customizable and allows the teachers to develop and include their own questions to match the subject matter. This results in increased engagement of the students as well as the teachers.

Patrecia Heath-Hayles, Vice Principal at Old Harbour Bay Primary in St Catherine, has been an educator for more than 20 years and has praised this innovative learning tool.

"I am really glad I was a part of this training. I am looking forward to getting the game. I can hardly wait to start using it with my students," she offered.

Winsome Hines-Bailey, a teacher at Servite Primary in St Ann explained that she is always seeking new ways to engage her students especially in the virtual space. 

"I have always heard about gamification and wanted to know more about it. The session was very informative and it's now for me to find an innovative way to integrate the game in my class," she shared.

Kheelia Blake who teaches at Bethlehem Primary, Malvern, St Elizabeth, expressed her gratitude for the training session. She shared that keeping her students engaged is one of the many challenges she faces daily.

“The learning content from the session was informative, fun and interactive. I was hooked from beginning to end. I am glad that I participated in this programme and I believe that this will be an effective tool to use in the classroom. I also plan to share the information with my colleagues who could not make the training sessions. Thank you so much,” she said.

The week of training was capped with the teachers' participation in a virtual Mental Health webinar held under the theme: Beyond The Classroom – Fostering Mental Health and Wellbeing. The session was led by Dr Joan Pinkney, Educator and Counselling Psychologist, who took the teachers through various aspects of preserving their mental health and wellbeing.

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