The Gamification of Education

Posted: August 26, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Gamification is the term that refers to using game mechanics and game strategy to other, everyday applications. It seems that applying it to education is a relatively new concept that is gaining popularity. However, educational games are nothing new. As a child, I remember playing Where in the World is Carmen San Diego, which taught me geography and some history and Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing to learn typing skills. Today, there are many educational apps designed for children of all ages and websites that teach a variety of different subjects. Gamification can be applied to all levels of education, from grade school to college.
I believe there are many benefits to Gamifying education. Statistics say that 65% of U.S. households play videogames. Even though I wouldn’t call myself a “gamer,” I find video games to be entertaining and somewhat satisfying. There is something about “leveling up” and earning various rewards that makes me feel a sense of accomplishment. I can see how applying this to education could help motivate children and adults to succeed in school.
The reward system alone is a huge advantage that I see. Rather than having points taken off for every item that missing or incorrect, a student sees their grade or points going up. Then, after earning so many “XP,” they “level up.” This is much more intrinsically rewarding and, I believe, better for the student’s self-esteem. Last year in fifth grade, my son was told that any time he turned in an assignment a day late, it was automatically 50% credit. This did nothing to motivate him to turn in homework that he may have forgotten to bring the day before. Disheartened, he would say, “What is the point of turning it in, I already have an F on it?”
I also see a great advantage in having a reward system for class-wide achievements. This would create a better sense of community and camaraderie. Rather than some students being left in the dust, this could level the playing field, so to speak. Some students could really benefit from a little help from their peers rather than feeling unsuccessful and lost. Shouldn’t we encourage the ones that feel the most discouraged? My son informed me the other day that children that play an hour of video games, feel more secure in their environment. Of course I was skeptical but then I watched the video “Extra Credits: Gamifying Education” and the part about games giving a person a sense of agency, or a feeling of control over their lives, really struck me. I think it is important for school children and adults, for that matter, to feel secure and become more resilient in order to be successful in life.
While I do see many advantages to gamifying education, there may be some drawbacks. Not everyone enjoys videogames or has access to the technology required to play games. It seems many schools and classes have a one-size-fits-all approach teaching. I think it is important to remember that everyone learns differently and what motivates one student may not motivate another. Also, some teachers may not be comfortable using the kind of technology needed for Gamification. I have had an instructor that refused to use Blackboard because he couldn’t figure it out and asked the class not to email him because he would rather receive a phone call. College is not just for freshly graduated eighteen year-olds, either. Gamification might not be as easily mastered by older generations as someone who is in their teens. I know I am having a little trouble with some of the assignments for my Pop Culture class. However, this is forcing me to do things that I may not have tried on my own; like creating a blog, embedding cool stuff in my blog and signing up for Twitter.
I am interested to see where Gamification takes education in the future and I hope you found this post interesting. Here is a fun Infographic I found on about Gamification of Education. (I think I figured out how to embed something.)
Gamification Infographic

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media


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