Gamification in 21st Century Schools

Today in classrooms and schools there are many different tools educators can use to make learning more engaging and meaningful for students. There are many debates on what should be used with students with a whole bunch of resources out there. I want to analyze gamification in the classroom as a free choice blog prompt relating to ed tech this week. Gamification is a fairly new idea to me that I want to explore to see its’ possible benefits or challenges it can create for students and teachers. I often see things on Twitter relating to gamification so I thought I would check it out!

 Photo Credit: eltpics Flickr via Compfight cc

To learn more about gamification I had to do some research. According to 10 Specific Ideas to Gamify Your Classroom, “gamification uses game elements such as challenges, feedback, levels, creativity, and rewards to motivate students to learn, and master concepts”. Before reading up on gamification I thought it was just playing games in school! My naive thoughts were definitely wrong. Gamification is a lot more complex than that. There are a variety of things it can entail for students including the following taken from 10 Specific Ideas to Gamify Your Classroom:

  1. Make Students Co-Designers: students are allowed a voice in the learning destination. They get to contribute ideas to things like goals and class design.
  2. Allow Second Chances. And Third: students are allowed opportunities to learn from their mistakes and try again.
  3. Provide Instant Feedback: students give and receive feedback so learners know where they need to go next.
  4. Make Progress Visible: instead of giving number grades, use progress bars.
  5. Create Challenges or Quests Instead of Homework & Projects: present work in a fun and challenging way.
  6. Give Students Voice & Choice: give students a variety of options they can use to reach their goals.
  7. Offer Individual Badges & Rewards: offer badges or rewards for recognizing student achievement and giving incentive for students to continue.
  8. Have Students Design A Class-Wide Skills & Achievement System: an environment where everyone can celebrate individual and collaborative accomplishments.
  9. Implement Educational Technology: find creative ways to use technology to help enhance your gamified classroom.
  10. Embrace Failure; Emphasize Practice: allow students to try, fail, and learn while supporting creativity and enhancing the curriculum.

After reading some information on the benefits of gamification I also wanted to weigh in some of its possible challenges. 4 Pros and Cons to Learning outlines some possible cons to using gamification in the classroom. These include:

  • Decreased student attention span: critics of gamification believe that students who experience the fast pace and immediate feedback expect the same kind of response from all education and if they don’t find it they get frustrated.
  • Cost: Although cost is based on the type of system you are using, there may be equipment costs, software costs, and training costs for teachers.
  • Student assessment: When using gamification it is not always clear how the results will fit with the curriculum outcomes.
  • Game logistics: As a teacher you need to fully understand a game before you present it to students, this can be time consuming.

After doing some research on gamification here are my thoughts:

  • I think there are ways to definitely incorporate gamification in the classroom, even if simply just using the idea behind it and not actually using games specifically. For example, #3 of 10 Ideas for Gamification states to provide instant feedback. This is something we should be doing in every classroom, even if we don’t embrace gamification.
  • Gamification would be an interesting concept to try out. I think it would create fun and engaging learning experiences for students.
  • Although gamification seems like a great tool I have a couple issues with it. First of all, I think it would be challenging to find the right games to use with students. It would be time consuming finding a game and then learning it before introducing it. Also, you have to be careful with rewarding badges or not rewarding badges. You would not want students to become dependent on that.
  • Overall, there are great things to pull from gamification and I think there would be benefits for students. It would create a unique and exciting experience.

Until next time…

P.S. What are your thoughts on gamification?? Would you ever try it?


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