Gamification in education: what it is and how to apply it
Gamification in education: what it is and how to apply it
9 minutes of reading
Gamification in education means using typical games’ techniques, dynamics and strategies to stimulate learning.
Gamification in education has become more popular over the years, and it has already proven to be positive among children, pre-teens, young people and even adults, either for school teaching or employee training.
In this article, you will understand how gamification can be used in education, what are the advantages of adopting this practice on a daily basis and how to start achieving greater student / employee engagement as soon as possible.
At the end of the article, you will not only understand the full potential of gamification in education – you will also be prepared to apply gamification to other contexts, always with a focus on optimizing learning.
So let’s go?
What is gamification in education
Speaking in a simplified way, gamification is the action of using resources and elements of games in the education scenario, to stimulate learning and engage students.
There are several ways to do this, from the most subtle to the most advanced ones.
When a teacher in elementary school divides her students into teams and challenges them to spell words, in a competition in which the team that gets it right will receive some kind of prize or benefit, she is, in fact, gamifying the education.
When a company promotes an application for employees to challenge each other in duels of knowledge about a new technology or language adopted by the company, it is gamifying employee training.
Were you able to understand how gamification is employed in different contexts to stimulate learning?
The reason why gamification is successful is quite obvious: playing is much more fun than studying.
The explanation lies in the fact that games provide immediate feedback, immersion and collaboration.
Taken together, these three characteristics awaken the interest of players and are used in the education system or in the classroom to reduce student disinterest in the content.
It is worth highlighting that student disinterest is one of the main causes of school dropout in Brazil.
According to the School Census, held annually, there are about 900 thousand teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17 years who are out of school.
Among the reasons causing this problem are the financial reality, the difficulty accessing school and the lack of interest.
In other words, most times schools are not able to motivate and attract the attention of young people.
If you have spent part of your childhood locked in classrooms taking tedious lessons from uninspired teachers, dealing with subjects that seemed far from having any practical application in your life, you certainly know what we are talking about.
It is precisely in this scenario that attracting students’ attention is a challenge and gamification emerges as a great weapon for educators.
But, before understanding how to apply gamification in practice, it is essential to understand the main advantages of adopting this process on a daily basis.
Student engagement and interest in content are not the only benefits. Check it out:
What are the advantages of gamification in education?
Anyone who thinks that gamification in education relates solely to student engagement and interest is wrong.
By using games’ techniques in the teaching and learning process, it is possible to improve student performance.
The more engaged and interested students are in the content, the greater will be their level of knowledge acquired.
Check out some of the main advantages of gamification in education below:
- Higher interaction levels: students participate more in classes and interact more with each other;
- Dynamic classes: with gamification, the class moves away from the traditional and boring style of learning;
- New skills: gamification encourages creativity, autonomy and collaboration;
- Higher motivation levels: the engagement attained through games awakens curiosity and increases motivation;
- Greater content retention: when the use of games is consistent, there is higher content absorption;
- Student protagonism: when students become players, they also become the protagonists of their learning trajectory;
- More playful: learning becomes lighter, fun and enjoyable. Studying doesn’t have to be a boring, tedious and exhausting exercise.
Now that the advantages of gamification in education are clear, it is time to understand how to apply it.
How to apply gamification in education
To apply gamification in education, you need to know the dynamics of games.
It all starts with missions and challenges, which are the starting point for creating the narrative.
Then, the phases, points and prizes come into play along the journey, each time a goal is achieved.
Gamification experts, the authors Gabe Zichermann and Christopher Cunningham, cite various elements of games that are useful to those who want to apply gamification in education:
- Engagement Loops;
But how could you build the narrative for games? How could you use these elements in practice?
The authors also mention game mechanics that, alone or combined, can be used by those who are building a learning focused game. These are:
- Pattern recognition: search for patterns to unravel the game;
- Collection: explores the human characteristic of gathering useful materials to be used in the future;
- Surprises and unexpected pleasure: they have the potential to generate long lasting engagement;
- Organization and order: SimCity and Tetris explore the organization of elements;
- Gifts: are used for promotion or recruitment;
- Acknowledge to perform: understand how the rules work to proceed;
- Leadership: provides rewards based on the player’s leadership power;
- Fame: is related to the player’s influence on others;
- Becoming a hero: gives protagonism to the player;
- Status: defines hierarchies within the system;
- Growth and cultivation: here, the player needs to look after a certain environment to develop it.
So, did you have any idea on how to bring gamification to your daily life?
In order to assist you in this process, we have set up simplified step by step instructions below:
Interact with games
You need to know the logic of games to explore them in learning. If you do not have the habit of playing, you need to explore them and gain insights. In order to do that, get to know electronic and board games, experiment with them on different platforms, and understand the different types of games related to specific age groups.
Get to know your target audience
Which games does your target audience play? What are they interested in? What catches their attention?
Gathering the above information is essential for you to define what type of game you are going to adopt.
Set game goals
What is your goal with the game? Do you want to increase your students’ knowledge on a particular subject? Do you want to teach your employees a new language? Do you want students to interact more with each other? Or do you simply want to bring the team together and allow them to get to know each other better?
Define the game’s mission and achievements
What is the purpose of the game session? It can be finishing a task faster, finishing in first place, answering more questions, earning more points, etc. The player achievements need to be aligned with the overall game goals.
Develop a narrative
Every game requires a narrative: the story that will be told throughout each level. What will players need to do to complete a level? What is the main purpose of the game? How will game events connect to make sense?
Choose the platform
Will it be an outdoor competition, a board game inside the classroom or a mobile game, with students playing on their cell phones? There are numerous possibilities, but these are the most common ones when it comes to gamification in education.
This definition will decisively impact the costs of the project and the results you will get. After all, a mobile game tends to be more scalable: it can be used by various users at the same time, in different locations.
Create the game mechanics
The mechanics of the game are its rules: they define what needs to be accomplished to advance in each level, what can and cannot be done, who wins, who loses, who dies, etc. Defining the game mechanics is one of the most complex tasks, because they are the skeleton of the game.
Set the scores and awards
Finally, it is time to define the scoring and award system. What will be the winner’s prize? How will scores vary between them? How are they distributed to each player in each level? How do bonuses impact the whole process?
Now it’s time to take the first step to get your ideas off the ground.
You already know that gamification stimulates student engagement and interest, which drives content absorption and learning.
In addition, you are already able to put together a complete plan for your gamification project, with the main elements that will drive its success.
If the goal is to create a more elaborated game, to be played on cell phones, for example, it is time to ask for the help of professionals specialized in the subject, who have gaming and development experience.
Here at Bravi, we believe that games are a very powerful tool for companies that want to stimulate employee engagement.
That is why we developed the Bravi Quiz game: a tool in which players challenge each other, in knowledge battles with content defined by managers.
Played on cell phones in short one-minute cycles, the game can be customized for different needs, and it has already been proved to be successful for numerous companies of various sizes.
One of these companies is Cambridge Assessment English. They needed a way to promote the English language learning around the world, and gamification was the chosen solution.
Quiz Your English, the gamification app that resulted from the partnership between Bravi and Cambridge, has already had more than 650 thousand downloads around the world.
Cool, right? We are available to chat if you really want to put gamification into practice.
How would you apply gamification to education? Share your ideas with us!