“School is boring, repetitive and I don’t get why we need to do this stuff!”
This was what a student said when asked by Scott Hebert, a teacher in Fort Saskatchewan, Canada. In his Tedx Talk, Scott explained how the cycle of education “is broken”.
He also discussed how we can solve engagement crisis through a new approach of teaching — that is, gamification.
But what is gamification? How can it help with education? And what are the ways to bring fun to classrooms?
This blog post will answer these questions.
Gamification in Education — What is it?
“Gamification… literally means taking the principles of game design and plunk them in an area where there’s no game like school,’ Scott explained. To elaborate, gamification aims to enhance non-game activities to increase engagement, participation, competition, and loyalty.
It is sometimes described as gameful thinking, motivation design, game principles for education, engagement design, etc..
Gamification is already widely used as a marketing technique to lure customers. For example, you might have heard about a competition where you get a free coffee after completing a punch card. Or you may have seen a social media ad from a restaurant encouraging the audience to share a post to get a chance to win a free meal.
These are just a few of the many ways gamification is being used in a variety of settings. But interestingly, it can also be applied to education. Games, regardless of what it is, increase motivation through participation, which is where learning really is.
Gamification is not about involving the pupils to commercially-made video games or letting them make their own game. It’s about translating the engagement that gamers experience with games to an educational context with the goal to facilitate learning and influence student behaviour.
Gamers spend countless hours playing problem-solving and games, and so researchers and educators teamed up to find ways to use the power for motivation from videogames and apply it to the classroom.
“School was supposed to be… exactly what I saw on Sesame Street and Barney and all these shows I watched on TV. [School is] supposed to be fun, dynamic, engaging [and] playing with friends. I should be digging in sandboxes to learn about things not reading and writing and not writing about them in worksheets,” Scott said to his audience.
Gamification aims to bring fun in class to encourage students to participate and engage instead of memorising stuff that won’t be actually valuable in real life. Game Elements Gamification in education is about incorporating game elements to motivate the students.
Here are some of the elements:
● Immediate feedback
● Mastery (i.e., levelling up)
● Scaffolded learning (increasing challenges)
● Social connection
● Player control
● Progress indicators (through PBLs; points, badges, or leaderboards) A classroom that applies all or some of these elements can be considered a gamified classroom. The goal should be not only to motivate the players (the students) but to really capture their interest. The Benefits of Gamification in Education A gamified learning technique offers a lot of benefits, including:
● More fun in the classroom
● Students get motivation for learning
● Students feel they’re in control
● More relaxed atmosphere in the classroom
● Students can explore different identities (through characters or avatars)
● Students get more comfortable in learning and in school How Can You Make Your Class Fun and Interesting?
There are many ways to apply gamification to a learning environment. Some examples include Improving the structure of the class or changing the language in the classroom.
Modifying the structure of the class could be translated by organising the students into “party”, “leagues”, or “guilds” that work together to complete a quest — a group project. By changing the language in the classroom, you might call completing an assignment as “embarking a quest.”
These are some of the many ways to gamify your classroom. Below are four more ways that you can introduce to the class to gamify the learning environment.
1. Gamifying through grading Instead of solely using letter grades, you can use experience points (XP). This XP could be translated to letter grades that are assigned based on how many XP a student has accumulated (or how much they have accomplished). Each assignment, project, and test should feel rewarding to the students, not disheartening.
2. Awarding students with badges “How many of us have a credit card where you go around, and on that credit card, you had a choice between a regular one or a points one. And then you get a points credit card, and you’re like ‘I’m totally screwing the system. All these purchases are getting me points,’” said Scott in his talk as he explained how points could entice us. The logic is clear. Points — and badges alike — is an excellent motivator. When a student completes an assignment, you can reward them with badges. This gamification can be combined with the XP system. For example, if students watch instructional videos and complete problem sets, they should be rewarded with badges and points to track progress and inspire them to persevere.
3. Excite students through competition Team-based competitions encourage students to share, challenge and defend. These are elements that could improve the energy and atmosphere in the classroom — most importantly, the learning. Educators have found that competitions can encourage students to learn the material and practice. Everyone wants their name to be on top of the leaderboard, right? Stirring up competition in the classroom can also help introverts demonstrate their knowledge voluntarily… yes, without them having to raise their hands.
4. Adding educational video games to your curriculum In video games, the player can make his or her own choice. The player has a sense of urgency. When applied in the classroom, students are given a chance to have a sense of urgency, the more urgency they have, the better they do. Minecraft: Education Edition is one of the many AAA games that can be integrated into the classroom. You can divide the students into teams and assign them tasks to complete in the game using the same devices they use at home.
5. Using education apps at home Education apps can be useful when preparing students for exams. Apps like KidSmart are useful as they incorporate the gamification of education. In essence your child is learning without realising.
A lot of the common issues in learning are alleviated through the use of apps. For example children’s attention spans, focus and desire to learn all improve when the learning experience is more fun.
The efficacy of gamification as a solution to the engagement crisis is still a debate. Critics say that relying on games can be detrimental to intrinsic motivation. True, games cannot replace traditional methods and practices of teaching, but educators have seen how gamification enhanced the overall learning experience.