Videogames have changed the way the younger generations interact with entertainment, could they change the way they interact with learning? Could gamification be the future of education?

What Is Gamification?

Gamification is a new approach to education that applies video game design in learning contexts in order to motivate and engage students. There are many aspects of games that can be integrated in gamification, such narrative, point based reward systems, collaborative problem solving, trial and error, or opportunities for leveling up. An activity does not necessarily need to have all these features in order to be considered gamification.

How does it help students?

Games are about problem solving, this alone makes them a great tool for teaching, learning and assessing. It has been shown that gamification helps student focus, retain information, and improve their overall performance. This is mostly thanks to the fact that younger generations are so used to video game dynamics that seeing them recreated at school is guaranteed to increase their engagement. Instant feedback, trial-and-error deductive learning, and a fun more active way of studying are among the aspects that make gamification so appealing. Students feel more in control of their choices, just like they feel when playing as the main character in a game.

Successful examples of gamification

Gamification is already part of education, and it has been proven extremely successful. Platforms like Duolingo, that lets students learn a language by translating increasingly complex sentences, or The World Peace Game, a political roleplaying game that lets students explore the relationships between nations. Some teachers have tried to introduce more technology into the classroom with unbelievably positive results, like the Minnesota 3rd grade teacher Mr. Pai. He integrated new devices into his curriculum, including the Nintendo DS, trying to engage his students. In just a few months his class’ performance increased significantly, bringing them to a mid 4th grade level.

But gamification is not just for elementary school and universities are also opening up to it. Coursera, for example, is a company that has already partnered with several universities to provide free online classes. The courses include video lectures and weekly assignments, feedback is immediate and students “level up” or receive badges as a reward system.

How can we bring it into the classroom?

Integrating more technology into the curriculum is incredibly helpful and often cheaper than we think, but gamification can be introduced even without a budget.

Grades are the easiest thing to gamify, introducing points, bonuses, achievements and even badges to reward students and assess their level of understanding of the subject.

Quests, treasure hunts, and other interactive activities could help gamify homework, motivating students to maintain their engagement after school hours. Encouraging team work, or even stirring up competition organizing tournaments can have the same results, while also teaching students valuable skills they will need in the workplace. Using the students’ own resources, like their phones and home computers, they can turn their homework into youtube videos, websites or blogs. Encouraging children to share their work on the internet will make them feel more motivated and invested than they would be if they were writing an assignment for just the teacher to read.

Gamification can completely change the way young students look at school, and really help them to feel passionate about what they are studying. This is more than just a trend, it is going to be the future of our school system.

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