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The ‘Gamification’ of education

- May 30th, 2011

Gamification of education

The “gamification” of education is a relatively new approach to education that employs game play mechanics to creating a more engaging and playful learning experience. It works by using ideas from game design to encourage people to learn and complete tasks with more enthusiasm. Gamification can also provide the necessary external motivators for the important learning that must occur outside the classroom.

Recent studies have revealed that most students in the United States and Canada spend more time each day watching TV and playing video games than they do in school. This clearly represents a challenge for educators, to respond to students with the technology that they regularly use and understand. The current system of a teacher lecturing in front of a chalkboard (which has been the staple of public schooling since its invention in 1842) doesn’t make sense to many students who have grown up playing video games, learning through play and building things with computers.

Fortunately, students aren’t waiting around for the Neanderthal-like pace of institutional reform and they are offering their own visions of the education they need. I recommend you watch A Vision Of Students Today to see how young people are using technology to examine the problems of education in the 21st century. Many educators are also responding to how technology can revolutionize education and they are taking the time to examine the promise and perils of “gamifying” education.

Let’s look at some of the interesting ways that the “gamification” of education can transform the way we learn:

If you don’t have time to watch, here are some of the gamification ideas for education presented in the video.

1. One place to start with education reform is by changing the current grading system, which is demotivating to a lot of students and creates a reinforcing feedback loop for failure. Perhaps a new point-based system can be more rewarding and provide better intrinsic motivation for students.

2. Gamifying the education experience can help hammer home the idea that people control their future. It can help students develop a sense of agency where they feel they have control over their lives and more confidence in their ability to change their circumstances.

3. Students need to remain engaged and continue to learn voluntarily outside the classroom. Gamification can be used to provide the external motivators that continue the cycle of learning outside the classroom by encouraging curiousity and providing incentives to facilitate different kinds of learning.

For more on how technology is changing education, check out Making Learning Fun With Interactive iPad Apps For Kids and our article on How To Take University Courses on your iPhone or iPad.

Image Credit: SomeGeek / cc

Source: Kyle Pearce, GetConnected

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3 comments

  1. Ian Ridge | June 1, 2011 at 11:42 am

    all education needs is enforcement – tests/assignments/projects need to be completed as scheduled and not delayed until (as allowed) last day of classes. Surprisingly, employers don’t delay work for trips,absences,”not into it” reasons. Trying showing up late for your first job – it will be your first ex-job. Any current class has 10% or more of students with work outstanding that has to be accomodated. let kids quit when they have had enough of school – keeping students who have two or three high school credits in school until they are 18 is ridiculous (some students have children) and they are dragged back to school by the enforcment personnel – surprisingly many of these students find selling illegal substances a good way to make money to support their children. Getting out at 16 when they are old enough to work full time is not a crime!
    MARKS are GOOD – you are graded every day in every way by every person you meet – get used to it!!! Every day is survival of the fittest and the continued dumbing down and the addition of playeducation to school makes us less competitive as a society.
    Almost every school awards it’s academic scholarships to female students because they WORK; solidly, quietly and HARD. With our current culture most male peer reinforcement is for them to get the best mark possible with the least amount of work – a pass being the target. This is acceptable to them because until high school you can’t fail or be left back – god forbid there was a consequence for shoddy work of lack of effort.
    Yes there are exceptions (on both ends of the bell curve) – in the end the majority of people like – CLEAR GOALS – ACHIEVEMENT – RECOGNITION – marks do that for people – fuzzy feel good epithet’s don’t.
    You could have Beyonce demonstrating a class solely based on the newest call of duty franchise – in the end – you have to measure achievment and knowledge – not fun and happiness. WORK is a four letter word – get used to it.

  2. Mr. Think About It | June 2, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Mr. Ridge.

    Thank you for sharing your opinion. I’m confident that, as strong as it is, you’re not likely to be convinced otherwise or open to opposing views. There is merit to some of your rant, but I was reminded of the story, “…when I was a kid, I walked up-hill (both ways) 5 miles to get to school.”

    Of course, “reality” is important, but what’s reality to a 5 year old? To a 10 year old? It’s certainly not the reality of an adult’s. So although you compare the work world to children’s education, you leave out the idea of “payment”. You go to work, I assume, to get paid. To suggest to a student that “payment” is that you’ll be ready for the future is of little consequence, because future means something entirely different to them. So, I’d suggest that payment for a student/kid comes down to fun and a sense of accomplishment that comes from that. I’d also suggest that learning and fun can be synonymous for kids even though “work” and fun when we’re older may not be.

    I could go on about how many very reputable corporations are using “gaming” for educational purposes, and I could point you in the direction of initiatives that support that learning from a “game” is more powerful than learning from a text book. Again, if you’re up to broadening your perspective, you can do the research. In fact, Google the book “Everything Bad is Good For You” – sure opened my eyes.

    As the article / video suggests, education moves painfully slow and is based on an outdated model. If the medical profession moved as slowly as education, you’d still use leeches to treat infections. The goal for education is, to mesh learning with these new, powerful tools in a responsible way. For my kids, I have no objection to learning to be fun for them, relevant to their stage in life and that truly engages them. Those other life lessons, they’ll come. The world is filled with traditionally educated folks who exhibit the shortcomings that you note as barriers to success, but I’m not about to blame traditional education (necessarily).

    Ooops, must run. My boss just sent me a text message using “language” that isn’t academic writing and that certainly isn’t the Queen’s English. Times change.

  3. Nanny Games | June 20, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Thanks for the post Kyle! We at enannygames.com believe in gamification and appreciate any of your thoughts and ideas on that topic.

    Despite our love for technology we are wondering what people think about traditional games for outdoors and indoors, that can be found and reviewed on their smart phone devices?!

    How can we combine old games with new technology?

    Regards,
    eNanny

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