Gaming is popular among people of all ages due to its benefits, like entertainment, encouraging teamwork, and engagement. People engage in different types of games, from video games, card games, and puzzles to role-playing games.
Teachers and instructors are now adopting different teaching methodologies, and gamified learning is now where instructors use gaming concepts to teach.
Gamification is the implementation of game-like elements into a non-gaming activity. In the education sector, teachers use gamified elements to make learning more engaging, captivating, and entertaining.
A typical game will have features like leaderboards, points, and trophies to keep players invested. The same concept is applied in gamified learning, and if you are already a gamer, you are likely to find this learning methodology fulfilling.
Benefits of Gamification in Education
Why not use traditional teaching methodologies instead of gamification? Gamified learning stands to benefit the students in the following ways;
1. Increased engagement
Gamified learning helps create a fun and engaging learning environment, irrespective of the target audience. Learners will complete challenges and compete as they consume new concepts.
2. Real-world applications
Unfortunately, some curriculums teach students to pass exams. Gamified learning takes another approach where students interact with real-world applications.
3. Creates addiction to learning
Most people love overcoming challenges. Learners will always look forward to what the next level has to offer. The brain will release dopamine, the happiness hormone, whenever a learner wins or overcomes a certain challenge.
4. Real-time feedback
Students do not have to wait for instructors/ teachers to mark their assignments to get results. Gamified learning allows students to work on measurable targets. If the learner fails, they get instant feedback and know the next course of action to take.
5. Aids in cognitive development
The brain is one of the most important body organs. Games make the brain develop as they increase activity levels. Students learn how to multitask and how different actions influence the results.
6. Improved information retention
Learners are more likely to retain information if they do something practically. Such students will always create a mental picture when faced with a similar problem in the future.
Strategies for Implementing Gamification in Education
Gamified learning uses game elements but does not use games to teach. These are some of the strategies that are applicable to gamified learning;
1. Progress bars
Just like in games, learners want to know how close they are to finishing a certain project. A good game can tell that you have one more life left or need ten points to unlock the next level. A visual percentage or progress bar can motivate students to keep pushing to complete the course or a task. You can also add metrics like the number of hours similar students have taken to complete the same task/ course.
Learners are expected to complete a challenge using their efforts and time. An ideal challenge should not have a negative effect if a learner fails or does it incorrectly. Learning strategies like problem-solving can be incorporated into challenges to help learners think critically and outside the box.
3. Create classroom avatars
This approach suits online-based learning. The students will create avatars/ characters that they can personalize. They can modify their characters or ‘unlock’ various features by completing class tasks or challenges.
4. Point system
This approach allows students to gain points when they complete challenges, attend classes, or complete various tasks. Rewarding students with the highest points will motivate them to work harder. The point system will show a true representation of how a student progresses in a course or section.
You can use leaderboards to foster competition among the students. Leaderboards should be automated and can be based on different metrics. For instance, you can have a leaderboard showing the person with the most content in a week, the student who has completed the most challenges, or who gained the most points. Learners who want to appear on the leaderboard will work extra hard.
People love to be appreciated when they achieve certain goals. Some games award players badges as they advance from one level to the next. You can create badges based on various metrics like ‘student of the month’ or based on the levels that have been completed.
For instance, if you have a software engineering course, you can have the first “Frontend Developer” badge after the students learn frontend technologies. They can continue earning badges until they get the “Senior Software Engineer” badge after gaining the necessary skills and experience.
7. Interactive mini-games
You can use mini-games instead of dry quizzes to gauge whether students have grasped the content. For instance, you can have an interactive game that teaches students how to use CSS Selectors correctly. If a student selects the right selector, a congratulatory message appears, or they gain points. However, a danger message can appear when they pick the wrong selector or the game crashes.
Real-Life Gamification Success Stories in Education
If you are new to gamified learning, you may not know where to start as an educator. Luckily, there exist successful programs that you can borrow ideas from or even implement their programs. These are some examples;
Duolingo is a free and effective way to learn a new language. The lessons are split into small bits, and learners earn points as they unlock new levels. Duolingo teaches real-world communication skills. The lessons on this platform are backed by science, ensuring students learn how to read, write, listen, and speak effectively. The game-like features and challenges are carefully designed to keep you motivated. Duolingo utilizes artificial intelligence to ensure that learners get personalized learning experiences.
2. Quest to Learn
This public school in the US uses game-based learning to make classwork fun and interactive. The games in Quest To Learn are designed to be student-driven, immersive, interactive, and narrative-based. In this curriculum, a ninth-grader Biology student will spend the year as a worker in a fictional biotechnology company. The student is tasked with cloning dinosaurs and creating stable ecosystems for these creatures.
3. Khan Academy
Khan Academy is a non-profit educational platform that has incorporated gaming-like features in some of its sections. Students can complete different challenges and quizzes to gauge their understanding. Games are based on the content offered to help students understand concepts better.
Kahoot! is an online-based quiz application for learning. Users can choose from topics like History, Religion, Current Affairs, Sports, and Food, to mention a few. The platform has ready questions where students can compete and leaderboard updates after every question. Kahoot! comes with a timer that gives players time to answer questions. You can also create custom questions for your students.
5. Minecraft Education
Minecraft is among the most popular games in the gaming world. Minecraft Education was specifically designed to make learning interactive and fun. The platform has various features that allow students to collaborate and build real-world applications. The platform is accessible through different operating systems and devices.
Tips for implementing gamified learning
You now understand the benefits, forms, and examples of gamified learning. However, this might not be enough to get you started. Follow these steps to introduce gamified learning in your school;
1. Analyze your target audience
The nature of gaming elements you will use on content targeted at small kids will not be the same as for adults. Ask yourself questions like, is the target audience competitive? What are some of the things that they value? What kind of awards are likely to motivate them? Such an approach will ensure you create a curriculum that suits them.
2. Analyze the course details
The game elements you will use when teaching literature might not be the same for mathematics. You should also consider the complexity of the course to determine the level of gamification to apply. You can add a few gaming elements to a technical course to ensure it is interactive.
3. Add metrics
Competition makes people work hard. Create a metric system that suits the course you are teaching. The metrics should relate to the target audience.
4. Set realistic goals
Gamified learning brings a competitive aspect. However, the tasks should never be extra hard such that they discourage learners from progressing. You can add hints in your challenges or link to the content if a learner fails a test.
5. Set an award system
Determine what will likely motivate your learners and set an award system that befits them. It can be something simple like free access to premium content or anything that suits your learners. The leaderboard will come in handy to create a competitive environment.
6. Take feedback
Introducing a new concept may bring mixed reactions. Learners are your customers, and always ensure you take their feedback seriously. Analyze the metrics on your system and generate reports to aid in decision-making. You can also consult experts in the field to ensure the program suits the audience.
We can’t stress enough how gamification for education makes learning fun, improves engagement, and aids cognitive development. The teaching strategy choice will depend on your objectives, target audience, and available resources. You can combine a few gamified strategies in one course.