Gamification involves the use of game elements in a non-game setting or context and it is a popular method that is being used in many classrooms. It can greatly enhance instruction without increasing costs, so it has become a preferred tool for many educators. The considerate of using gamification often comes when different learning designers hear of how game thinking can improve an educational experience as well as employee training. This tool not only makes the classroom more beneficial for students but for teachers as well. Gamification can be implemented into existing instruction and will dramatically improve all learning outcomes and will also help to motivate students and keep them involved in the learning experience being offered.
When gamification is used with learning it is sometimes referred to as gameful thinking, motivation design, engagement design or game principles for education. These all mean the same thing and they are completely different from game-based learning. With gamification, the individual student does not make their own game or play any commercial video games. They will instead engage with others in the classroom using gaming elements and this can enhance the learning experience in amazing ways. There is a number of different game elements that are now being used in the classroom and each has some amazing benefits that will motivate and engage students more than traditional teaching has in the past.
By using gamification, the hope is to replicate the engagement of gamers and games that can then be translated to educational contexts that can help facilitate learning and have a better influence on the behaviors of students. Many gamers spend hours engaged in games and educators are trying to use gamification as a way to keep them engaged in the classroom as well by providing a fun way to learn that includes a rewards system.
Game Elements that are Used
When using gamification there will be different game elements that are used with the learning courses. There are many types of elements and each teacher or instructor will choose those that will provide the most benefits for the class as a whole as well as for individual students. Game elements are components that are often used together with game dynamics and mechanics to help shape gamification. Dynamics refer to the world that is created for the user and the mechanics are actions that are created to keep users engaged and motivated. With game elements, these are various components that are used to create both of these and they are specific to the activity being performed or the class being taught.
Game elements will have to fulfill a need to maintain interest, so the choice of elements is essential when implementing gamification in a learning environment. There are many elements that can be used, but most educators will rely on the most common elements as they have proven to be very effective in the classroom and have successfully engaged students and motivated them to be successful.
The following list contains the most used elements and there is a brief description of how these work and why they are used.
- Avatars – These are virtual personalities or representations of the user
- Points Systems – Points are earned as tasks are completed, goal achieved or progress noted
- Teams – Users will work together to achieve common goals
- Missions – These are certain milestones and goals that must be reached to earn points or rewards
- Virtual Goods – Users will earn goods that can be used at various levels that can present great rewards
- Leaderboards – These will show the standing of each participant so they can see where they are in terms of other students and their individual progress
- Battle – This is a challenge that is designed to have individuals compete using certain skills or knowledge.
These different elements are often used in a classroom setting and have become a great teaching aid. They help to shape the mechanics and dynamics that create gamification and they play a large role in the motivation of students.
Benefits to Using Gamification in Education
Gamification is a powerful tool in education when it is used correctly and it can provide a number of amazing benefits. It successfully makes boring and mundane tasks much more enjoyable and fun and also boosts participation and will help to increase retention of knowledge. In many cases, the use of gamification can change fear into fun and will also make students feel like they want to do something instead of having to do it. It will also challenge each student and provide them with a reason to learn and will inspire them and have them thinking in different ways.
Gamification will give students goals and those goals will give them purpose. When it is used in the right way, it can tap into the natural tendency to be goal-oriented and to set certain standards that are needed to achieve set goals.
E-Learning and Gamification
When it comes to the world of online learning, gamification can be used to promote and enhance the commitment of the students during the learning process. If a process can be gamified, it can offer rewards for certain behaviors and will make a task much more enjoyable for the student. Games are very helpful when it comes to increasing the levels of interaction and motivation, so this can help to optimize the learning process and will result in more engaged students. With e-learning, motivation is essential since students are working on their own time and at their own pace. There needs to be rewards for motivation and a reason for them to return to the online classroom. Gamification helps with this and is now one of the most popular teaching tools used with online courses.