Michelle Ocriciano
Empowering students with gamification and project management tools.

The definition of Independent Learning seems to lack consensus among both researchers and practitioners. Yet whatever definition is being used, it is generally a skill expected from students, particularly at university level. For Knight (1996: 35), ‘independence is a goal, not a starting point’. Curriculum and material writers, and EAP teachers frequently emphasize how important independent learning is, but learners coming from diverse backgrounds are often unaware of how to work independently and are often not provided with tools to achieve their independence. This presentation aims at describing some tools to empower students during their independent learning journey through a more scaffolded approach. This will be done by demonstrating how to use gamification and project management tools. Gamification has been a much debated topic recently, especially after Gartner’s report in 2014. The main definition of gamification is the application of typical elements of game playing such as point scoring and competition to other areas of activity. However, Huotari, and J. Hamar (2012) describe it as a process of enhancing services with motivational affordances in order to invoke gameful experiences and further behavioural outcomes invoking the same psychological experiences as games (generally) do. Another powerful tool that can be used is project management which is the application of processes, methods, knowledge, skills and experience to achieve the project objectives or, more simply stated by Barnes (2003), “At its most fundamental, project management is about people getting things done”.

Michelle Ocriciano is an EAP teacher at UNSW Institute of Languages. She has been teaching in various contexts for 17 years in Brazil, the United States and Australia. She holds a B.A. in English and Linguistics, a B.Ed., CELTA, a Graduate Diploma in TEFL and an MA in Technology in Language Teaching. Her fields of interest are Technology in Language Teaching & Learning, Teacher PD, Language Variation and English as Lingua Franca.