Written by Sitinor Taqwa Binti Adenan
The advanced development of technology has made many changes to human daily lives. Hard becomes easy, far becomes near, and science fiction even becomes possible. Many fields have benefited from the technology. Education is one of the fields that receives a good impact aligned with technological advancement. As stated by Nincareana, Mohamad Bilal Ali, Noor Dayana Abdul Halim, and Mohd Hishamuddin Abdul Rahman (2013), technology has become progressively common in the past few years, and the way of teaching and learning has been influenced and revolutionised by the assimilation of technology. Edutainment, or education in entertainment, which has now become the norm, is a feature of the technological implementation of modern forms of entertainment in traditional lectures, lessons, classes, workshops, and masterclasses.
Robert Heyman (n.d.) of American National Geography Academic was the first person who suggested the idea of edutainment. He then built up a film of a game of this kind of training and named it Education by Entertaining. A case of early utilisation of edutainment is when Benjamin Franklin combined engaging and instructive substances, like riddles and rules of direct, into an instructional book for homesteaders. Aside from that, children’s TV programs, for example, Sesame Street, True-Life Adventures, and Schoolhouse Rock!, are likewise considered instances of early edutainment. Aksakal (2015) stated that “education has been used as a classical formula in producing educational computer games which are based on learning theories since the 1970s” (p. 1332).
Hence, it is best to believe that edutainment will bring a lot of benefits if it is implemented at primary schools in Malaysia. Malaysia, one of the countries in Southeast Asia, has implemented a different type of schooling which consists of 3 stages of schooling before they attend college. The first is preschool, which will take place when the students are 5 and 6 years old. After graduating from preschool, the students will attend primary school for 6 years, which means from 7 to 12 years old, and lastly, from 13 to 17 years old, which is secondary school. However, this schooling method is made for students who are registered with a public school in Malaysia as the country also has different types of schools in the educational system, which are public, private, international, and home-schooling, and the age range is different.
Keeping these students, between the ages of 7 and 12, involved in curriculum materials is a big challenge, especially for educators. As everyone is concerned, children in this age group usually really like to play, and it is hard to keep them focused during class. Thus, keeping the class lively and upbeat is the main goal for the teachers. However, a conventional class may be boring and straight-forward, making the students distant from the learning sessions. Educators need to tackle this issue by using technology that is available nowadays. Hence, education is one of the solutions. As stated above, edutainment is a feature of technology and the conventional class is formal, which some students feel dull when dealing with it. With edutainment, classes can be conducted everywhere, as long as the information can be obtained in a relaxed atmosphere. As long as they are involved with the learning materials while learning, they will feel excited and have fun. Apart from that, edutainment techniques form the best approach to learning technology skills, through which students can learn advanced technology skills more easily, considering that they have hands-on learning that will excite and inspire the youthful imagination. Thus, it is best to believe that edutainment should be used in primary schools in Malaysia because it will increase student engagement and level in understanding the learning content; its implementation of playful learning has a positive and appealing impact; and it will transform conventional classrooms into smart classrooms.
Increasing student engagement and their level of understanding of the learning content.
The first reason why edutainment should be used in primary schools in Malaysia is that it can increase student engagement and their level of understanding of the learning content. Student engagement is very much needed in every class as it demonstrates how much the students focus during the class. For some children, being in the same place to learn might become exhausting for them. Doing the same routine over and over again for almost a year might demolish the joy that they had earlier in the year when school almost started. They need to maintain the motivation that they had until the end of the year.
Di Serio (2014) conducted research and the results showed that technology increases students’ motivation as it brings them more satisfaction than being in conventional classrooms. According to Anikina (2015), intellectual procedure does not have to take place in the formal and frequently exhausting conditions and can transform into a healthy amusement with the acquisition of information concurrently.With edutainment, classes can be conducted everywhere. It can be anywhere in a relaxed atmosphere, including in the park, cafe, or restaurant. Classes that are conducted outside of the classroom can bring excitement to the students. Furthermore, classes that run outside of the classroom using edutainment can give an extra thrill to the students. Children who are pumped up for learning improve in school and throughout everyday life.
Gaining knowledge requires a lot of effort. The effort requires energy. Thus, it is best to believe that using technology will save energy. Edutainment will use a lot of technology, up-to-date or not. According to Kuvshinov (2009 as cited in Anikina, 2015), a learning process is an event which both parties—students and teachers—should be involved in. However, students might feel disconnected and tiresome during conventional class as it is tiring to hear only one person talking. Edutainment offers two ways of communication, as both educators and students need to show progress, or what we call subject to subject communication. With edutainment, educators can also see the result of the exercise given to the students in real-time. Edutainment also lightens the burden of teachers as they don’t have to mark and calculate all the exercises and quizzes manually. All can be done automatically by the software or applications that are being used. Even so, using technology requires skill. However, the skill will then open other opportunities, just like those skills can help them to find their interests. As per set, it will also help these students decide which field they will take when they are preparing for real life soon.
Keeping the class entertaining is a must as it will keep the students concentrated. Once the students focus during the class, it will help them to have active learning. This is because of the features that the edutainment has. Edutainment can be a tool that will help the lecturer and students figure out what they are currently learning. It can also help to enhance the student’s learning experience. Most kids nowadays already know how to handle a gadget as they are exposed to it at an early age. Thus, they are already comfortable with using gadgets. Learning using something that they already enjoy will enhance the learning experience as they enjoy both gadgets and learning sessions. Once they feel the learning experience is pleasant, it will help them to remember and understand what they are currently learning and stay focused on it, and it will also help the teachers meet the learning goals.
Okan (2003 as cited in Anikina, 2015) has stated that balancing the emotions of the students is the main objective of using edutainment as interactive pedagogy will persuade students that the learning session is intriguing and enjoyable. In the end, it will be an effective learning method as both parties will have achieved their goals: students learned, and teachers taught. Furthermore, in the current condition of the world, education will help the students become excited as the teachers will have many tools to teach them, not only give the instructions on the WhatsApp groups and let the students copy what is on the textbooks.
Playful learning has a positive and appealing impact
Apart from that, the reason schools in Malaysia need to start using edutainment is that learning while playing has an effective and engaging significance. Children prefer to play. This could be seen that they are going to play right after they wake up until they are going to sleep again at night. To divert their focus from playing to learning, teachers must do something that may attract their attention. This is often where edutainment comes to the rescue. Edutainment offers a simpler way to focus their attention to learning as edutainment is available in many forms. It can be animated videos, quizzes, or pictures. The series entitled “Omar and Hana” is a Malaysian animated video that is attractive and entertaining. They aim to show Muslim children great qualities and fundamental information in Islam, like du’as, supplications, and great character and ethics. Omar and Hana use repetitive words and sing-along lyrics in the videos, making it easy for children to follow and memorise the song. Apart from that, Omar and Hana use flashing colours that attract children’s attention. According to Dwiaryanti (2018), children are keen on animated videos that use vivid colors, clear music, and sound effects for the reason that it will boost the student’s capacity to understand and interpret the message that is being conveyed.
Edutainment is also a great way for children to learn languages. Language skills are a needed skill in this era of technology. Ilanguages.org stated that almost 40% of the world population is monolingual, which means they can only speak in one language, while 43% of the world population is bilingual, able to converse in two different languages, and 13% of the world population is trilingual, able to converse in three different languages fluently. Learning a language is very important for children because it will increase the children’s social skills since they will be able to convey their messages fluently when they are talking to someone. In addition, if the children can speak more than one language, it will also bring some benefits to them, such as learning cultural differences and being able to connect with people from other countries.
According to Bahrani & Sim (2012 as cited in Nimer Abuzahra, Mohammed Abdel-Hakim Farrah & Sarah Zalloum, 2016), animated videos are one of the important sources of authentic language. Thus, children can learn a number of vocabulary in the language to be used in real life. Apart from that, it can also make children pick up the language faster due to the fact that the words are being attached to the movement that the character makes that needs a less intellectual process for understanding. They can see which words belong to which action. Learning a language takes a long time until someone can fluently speak it. Thus, it is best to believe that edutainment can help to ease the process for students to master the language that they are currently learning. Moreover, Korkmaz stated that “If learners are children, language teachers should not ignore their natural instincts for games and they should seek ways to turn education into edutainment” (2012, p.1253). However, educators need to master the edutainment features first before exposing children to them in the sense that it will make the journey effortlessly. If the educators are using a game’s features, they need to try it first so that if something happens while the children are using it, they can solve the problem in a matter of time.
However, according to Korkmaz’s 2012 research, results show that when students play the game while learning the English language, they are convinced that they have understood the entire content of the lesson. (2012) study found the following:
84.3% of the participants reported that children like playing games when learning vocabulary, and 83.4% of them stated that children produce more sentences when they write in English as a game. Moreover, 81.9% of the learners agreed that children were able to understand English better when they were playing a listening game, and 81.8% of them revealed that when children read English texts as a game, they could understand better. 81% of them believed that children like to play games when learning grammar structures. However, with regard to speaking games, the participants’ views were not so positive, as only 55.4% of them believed that children could speak English more comfortably when playing games (p.1251).
It is possible to say that edutainment can help children read and write the language when they are learning using edutainment. However, teachers have to try other features of edutainment to enhance the students’ speaking ability.
Edutainment aims to teach learners to learn in an entertaining way. Edutainment is not restricted to only videos, games, and pictures. It can be equipped with high technology, such as a robotics machine. Some subjects, such as science, mathematics, or programming skills, need students to do hands-on in order to make sure that they are actually understanding the theories. It is no doubt that experiential and hands-on lessons are very exciting as they finally get the idea of what the theories are talking about. According to Sorathia & Servidio (2012), in order to enhance mathematical and scientific learning, a computer-based instruction gadget has been constructed and built. Learning while using the technology-equipped gadget is also fun as students will be excited to use the tools and remember the context of the lesson.
It can be said that edutainment can be a tool that helps educators deliver the content of learning more efficiently than the traditional method. Truth be told, educators need to explore many techniques in order to ensure that the students are learning. Good techniques will help the educators deliver the lesson efficiently and smoothly.
Transforms conventional classrooms into smart classrooms
As mentioned by Block et al. (2015), a smart classroom is a classroom that is equipped with some technology gadgets such as a laptop, flat panel screen, and smartboard. Therefore, a conventional classroom is somewhat contradictory to smart classrooms. Edutainment can be fully utilised if smart classrooms are implemented. Although transforming into a smart classroom might cost the institutions some amount of money, the benefit that smart classrooms provide to students is unpayable. However, a good smart classroom does not really need to have all that. A simple gadget like a laptop or mobile device is also considered as a tool of edutainment. It depends on how the educators utilise the tools to convey their lesson.
The main reason why students must remain engaged in the class is that they are responsible for what they have learnt throughout school time. It shows their commitment to the class. While they remain engaged, they will actively participate in the in-class activity. They will answer all the questions that the educators asked. Hence, the class will remain upbeat and the students can exchange and discuss their opinions among themselves. This will create active learning classrooms. Active learning is a reference to when the class is having a discussion or changing their opinion between students and teachers to keep them engaged and motivated in class (Marrone, Taylor, Hammerle, 2018). During the discussion, students can also improve their speaking skills, apart from the fact that teachers can control what is happening in the class. In addition, when the students change their opinions, other students can also gain new knowledge since they learn new things during the debate. Together with that, the educator’s desire to teach new lessons to the class is also improved. Hence, it will also reform class situations when learning a lesson. No more dull and quiet classroom activities.
Lastly, learning using edutainment will increase both students’ and teachers’ motivation. Motivation plays a crucial role in an exceeding student’s life. It will show their ability to achieve academic performance. Moreover, it will also drive the student’s behaviour throughout the lesson time. According to Hasan Afzal, Imran Ali, Muhammad Aslam Khan, and Kashid Hamid (2010), students’ motivation is divided into two categories: intrinsic and extrinsic. Whereas intrinsic students will participate in learning due to their own personal intention, without expecting any rewards, extrinsic motivation is when the students have to join the learning activity in order to not get punished or hope for any reward. Extrinsic learners also think that it is okay to put in minimal effort when doing the activity. Nevertheless, teachers can offer rewards that are exciting to extrinsic learners, such as giving them a present or money. As mentioned above, when using edutainment, it will create an active learning class. Both extrinsic and intrinsic learners will participate in the class activity, especially if the teachers are using game features. Hence, a teacher’s desire to see the students’ spirit to learn will also improve. When teachers are enthusiastic about teaching their students, they will do their best to convey the context of the lesson.
Towards the end, edutainment will not just bring entertainment when learning, it will also improve the lesson time by changing the student’s behaviour when learning. Students’ behaviour is uncontrollable; it is something that the educators cannot predict. However, the teachers can control the class situation by using the technology that is currently available.
In conclusion, there are a lot of benefits to using edutainment in learning sessions. Apart from converting traditional classrooms into smart classrooms, it will not only increase participation in the classroom but will also be effective and engaging. It is really crucial to how the learning content is interpreted by the students. These students will create new technology that could help the nation and country in the future. Apart from that, some of them will also become teachers, or maybe ministers and others. Thus, they are the ones who will lead the nations.
Cost will be the issue, for sure. However, the teachers can use the current available sources, such as YouTube videos, since there are many content creators who have already created videos related to education that can be used during the learning sessions. Apart from that, they can also use low-cost technologically based edutainment in order to deliver the content such as pictures and audio. It is just that the teachers need to be a little more creative in creating the materials.
Children are born to play. They play to feed their daily curiosity. Curiosity then will give them new knowledge. As narrated by Anas ibn Malik, reported that Prophet Muhammad said that “Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim”, while according to Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, Prophet Muhammad said that “The seekers of two concerns are never satisfied: the seeker of knowledge and the seeker of the world”. Therefore, both the teachers and students are encouraged to gain new knowledge; the teachers to learn about edutainment while the students learn both edutainment and learning sessions. Technology has made everything easier. It is best to know how to handle it in terms of using it in education.