Gamification in the Classroom
This week’s blog explores the role of gamification in education and talks about the ways in which you can use gamification to bring learning into your classroom.
The process of learning is fun as a kid. At that stage, learning is something that happens accidentally or as a by-product of the child’s curiosity and exploring. They explore, play, try new things, ask questions and in the process learn new and different things in a fun way. Learning something seems like a game and the rewards kept children playing. Later in life learning becomes mandated, structured and more linear. Surely this makes the education process more efficient, but also causes the learning process to lose its magic.
Students today unfortunately consider learning and education to be finishing off their assignments, studying for tests and scoring higher grades. Students these days are also digital natives, which makes them interact with technology better. However, technology has led to shorter attention spans.
The traditional teaching methods can lack the motivation and engagement incentive required to keep students motivated and attentive enough to learn. This can lead to boredom, absenteeism, drop-outs, technology distractions and low student performance.
Gamification is the use of game design and mechanics to enhance non-game contexts.
There is a common misconception that gamification is about playing games. But they are two different things. While playing a game is the actual action of playing, gamification on the other hand looks into the games’ mechanism. Gamification extracts game elements such as challenge, chance, competition, cooperation, feedback, rewards, winning, progression etc. and applies it to almost any field.
The idea behind using gamification in the classroom is to filter out the engaging elements of gaming and implement them into the teaching process. Gamified learning is a teaching methodology that creates a game-like scenario around the course curriculum and the objectives of the course.
As the gaming system tends to attract students, it also helps promote student engagement and motivates students to participate in the course activities. Using games as a motivator in the classroom also helps improve course assessment results as students tend to be more attentive and productive.
Research has also shown that nearly 80% of learners said they would be more productive if their learning was like a game.
How Can You Gamify the Classroom?
- Grading Gamification –The education system looks at grades as an incentive to motivate students and as an evaluation scale. But for some students, grades seem to fail as a motivation factor. Gamification techniques suggest using experience points or an XP system to grade. For example, students get points based on their performance and achievements: 500XP for homework, 1000XP for a quiz and 300XP for participation in the class. Faculty can even divide their course into levels and students need to gain a fixed set of points to proceed to the next level.
The points system is a way students can count up from zero, which is far more motivating, rather than the percentage system where they lose points from 100%, which tends to be demotivating. At the end of the semester, the points score can be converted to a grade, as required by the education system rules.
- Using Badges as Awards – Awarding students is a great way to motivate them to work better and harder. For each assignment completed, students can be awarded with a badge. It may seem like a kindergarten approach at first but it seems to work well with students as they consider earning badges as a tangible benefit for completing a task.
The popular online educational organization, Khan Academy, used the points system to keep student scores and awarded them with badges every time they watched instructional videos and completed problem sets.
- Adding Competition – Professors who have used gamification have found that it is a great way to incentivize students to learn the class material and practice. Students particularly work hard in order to see their names at the top of the leaderboard. You can easily create games using PowerPoint, flipquiz, jigsawplanet, purposegames, or even just regular paper. Click on the image to the right and play this Jeopardy style game made easily in flipquiz.
Gamification with some competition factor tends to boost student morale and gets them excited about demonstrating their understanding. Introverts are also able to demonstrate their knowledge of the material and participate without having to raise their hands. Overall it boosts the energy of the whole class with students encouraged to engage more and more.
- Gamify the Homework – A way to gamify homework is to modify the traditional assignments into quests. Quests could be short learning activities that could take 10 to 25 minutes to complete. Thus, a traditional homework assignment which could take hours for students to finish, could be done much faster and in a fun learning manner with about 3 to 4 quests.
In order to foster collaboration, students could also be encouraged to work on some quests together. Gamified assignments are an opportunity to learn from mistakes and correct them. Hence it may be advisable to allow students to repeat quests without penalty until they have mastered the skill.
- Make Space Work in your Favor – Just as games are designed spaces, educators also need to put together a designed experience for students. Every element of the classroom, from the physical space to the virtual resources can be used to gamify the classroom to support the learning objective.
Instead of having straight rows, the classroom could be designed in a way that provides interest and engagement for students by reconfiguring desks or even meeting outside of the class. Professors could also take advantage of the Internet, technology and customized online sites to create a virtual space for the class in way that it would provide a useful, interactive, engaging and even a fun space for students. One way to create a virtual classroom is by using the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra functionality. Blackboard Collaborate Ultra lets faculty schedule web conferencing sessions, organize real time chats, and upload recorded sessions. You can access the Collaborative Ultra feature in Blackboard by clicking on a course, selecting Tools in the left-hand side, and the clicking on Collaborate Ultra. Each course automatically has a continuous session that anyone in the class can join, and instructors have the ability to create other sessions throughout the semester.
Doing all these things at once may seem quite overwhelming to any educator. Start small and choose one or two of the above ways at first. You will observe that as the gamification process proceeds, the new teaching method tends to be more enjoyable and effective.
Read more: Is a gamified classroom right for you?