Gamification in education
Social play is natural to humans. Gamification in classrooms or in educational activities—like reading—is a fun way to get children excited about learning and engaged in learning activities.
It isn’t about turning educational activities into games. Rather, the goal is to incorporate some of the gaming elements into activities to enhance learning. Game researcher Scott Nicholson claims that the key is using meaningful gamification, so children develop an internal motivation to learn or read.
Gamification in education usually adds three typical elements:
- A defined set of rules
- Clearly articulated goals
- A feedback system
- The freedom to fail and try again
Using those elements, gamification gives teachers and learners flexibility to add what is termed the “four freedoms” of gamification:
- the freedom to fail (failure is expected until new skills are learned: students don’t worry as much about it)
- the freedom to experiment (new avenues leading to self-directed learning)
- the freedom of effort (periods of high focus alternated with breaks)
- the freedom to assume different identities (role-playing, seeing the world through a different perspective)
These elements aren’t always found in traditional teaching methods. As a result, incorporating them in learning offers more flexibility for both the child and the teacher.
Gamification, or ‘serious games’ can motivate learners and help them focus on the content of learning and remember it for longer. It can help transform a dull learning experience into something they want to be a part of. The hope is that it fosters autonomous learning.
Students who fail to thrive in conventional education settings or who have been alienated by education could find more freedom—new engagement and interest—in the gamification of educational activities.
Fans of gamification in education say that, used in classrooms, it creates both intrinsic motivation (students participate because they’re having fun) and extrinsic motivation (they participate because they want to reach a goal or reward).
A well-constructed gamified activity should have both extrinsic and intrinsic motivators: children can first be motived extrinsically to ‘play’ and explore the new topic. Then, in the long term, this will hopefully lead to engagement by creating newfound enjoyment of the topic itself.