Gamification in Education: Gamifying the Classroom


gamification-in-educationFrom time immemorial, teachers and parents have always been critical of the bias their children hold for games over their studies. While the former gets them instantly hooked, they mostly slog through the latter. As a new approach to education, Gamification looks promising to make kids approach their lessons with as much enthusiasm and excitement as they approach their video, computer and hand held games, thus making the classroom a place they love and look forward to. Through employing Gamification in the classroom, as a teacher, you can motivate students to study thus successfully teaching both the content and establishing a lifelong love of learning.

Do we have you curious about this innovation already? To be more specific, Gamification in education is the process of applying game-based elements to influence behavior. This is not to say that books, chalks and dusters would be replaced by Nintendos, but it does mean changing the larger structure of how the class is designed to be more game-like.

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Game-based learning

Columbia University researchers Joey J. Lee and Jessica Hammer point out, "Gamification attempts to harness the motivational power of games and apply it to real-world problems—such as, in our case, the motivational problems of schools."

Game based education incorporates common game elements such as quests, challenges, rewards, skill levels, and recognition systems into students' educational experiences.

For instance, lessons could be presented as quests. In a quest, students are given a real-world (or fantasy-world) goal that will require mastering certain content. For example, learning how to graph the movement of objects over time and calculate their velocity could be made into a quest to stop two trains from crashing. Quest based learning also broadens the variety possible in the classroom. 

You might be thinking that designing lessons as quests would require you to think a lot. However, we must tell you that Quests don't necessarily need to be complicated, original, or captivating in their own right. As gamification thinkers such as Gabe Zichermann teach, "fun is not correlated to them." Therefore, you can design your quests to be as simple or as commonplace as the unit requires and any theme or story can lend itself to a quest-style lesson.

Importantly, during a quest, students should be conscious of and therefore driven by a larger sense of purpose- i.e. the main goal. Certain small and big challenges can be incorporated as stepping stones to reach that goal. These challenges could be presented in the form of quizzes or group projects. Also allowing your students to make their way independently through the quest gives an added advantage. They develop their thinking and planning skills in trying to figure out multiple routes to reach the larger goal.

Games are addictive not just for children but also adults. On finding out what makes us so easily attached to them, we notice that they provide gratification at the right time and reward you for every little thing you accomplish. This characteristic of games can be easily employed within the classroom. By giving your students small but frequent rewards, maintains their interest and instills in them self belief and confidence to achieve larger goals in life.

Another important but easily employable characteristic of games is recognition. Zichermann asserts that status—not cash—is the best reward. Introducing skill levels to achieve this end could be very productive as it would encourage positive competition. Also the fear of failure is less wouldn’t be much of an issue since students' skill levels can only increase. Do visit 3DGameLab.

Lastly, which kid doesn’t love role play? Games allow them to be a fighter pilot one day or a ninja warrior on another. In a similar sense, Gamification allows space for students to try out different social roles and responsibilities through special titles, rewards and duties. You could assign them roles such as a "Senior Researcher" in a science project, "Royal Scribe" for a group history paper, "Spelling Master" in English Class, and so on. Such a strategy creates a sense of importance and responsibility among students and makes them want to put more of themselves into the classroom.

It looks like game based learning could challenge the age old adage of fun being concentrated in games and studies to be a more serious, rigid activity. What do you think? Drop in your views in the comments below.

About the Author
Author: Keerti Arora

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