Gamification is when elements of game design are applied outside of a traditional gaming environment. Some examples of gamification include health and fitness apps that track activity and shopping loyalty cards, where consumers rack up points for their purchases. Applying elements of gamification in the learning process engages and motivates students in the same way that a video game does, or a playground game of tip at recess.
Here are some ideas for how elements of gamification can be implemented in the classroom to support learning objectives:
It’s essential to have clearly established rules before you begin. This means that the expectations of the game are clear to all participants, and the students start on a level playing field.
Clearly-defined goals ensure that players have a purpose and focus while playing the game. Without a clear goal, players and learners have no way of knowing their progress, and whether they’re approaching the game’s ultimate objective. It’s also important to provide players with feedback on their progress, as it helps to increase motivation.
Scoring is a major component of gamification, as it allows learners to measure their success and to track their progress in comparison to other students.
It’s important that the scoring system is transparent, so all users can see how the scores are calculated; scoring should also be a tool that drives positive engagement and pushes the student towards the learning goals.
Providing a reward or incentive is a major motivational factor in the gamification of learning. A reward might be anything from the gratification of a student seeing their names listed first in a leaderboard, to certificates, or prizes like treats. It’s important to strike a balance, and not let the rewards overshadow the learning. It’s important to reward winning, but make sure not to punish losing. Those who don’t come first should be encouraged to try again.
Competition motivates the participant to do better than a fellow player. Direct competition sees students pitted against one another in the same game, such as in chess or monopoly. But competition can also take an indirect form, which can be useful in the classroom to prevent arguments. An example of this is playing individual games and recording all the player’s scores on one leaderboard to see who is the winner.
A mystery style of game can be used to encourage teamwork and cooperation, rather than direct competition. Getting your students to solve spelling puzzles, maths questions or other learning-related questions as steps towards solving a bigger mystery or story can be a great way of engaging your class in a positive group learning environment.
Gamification can be used in the classroom to aid learning by harnessing the excitement and fun of games, and applying it in an educational setting.