Gamification is the process of using game elements in a non-game context. It has many advantages over traditional learning approaches, including:
- Increasing learner motivation levels,
- Improving knowledge retention,
- Better learner engagement through social mechanisms like badges, points, or leaderboards
In our modern world, technology is naturally a driving force behind learning and the development of curricula. To achieve better results from learners, today’s educators are increasingly utilizing cutting-edge digital tools & strategies in their teaching methods.
Gamification for learning is one of these strategies used increasingly by teachers around the world. Using gamified elements can positively impact student engagement and collaboration, allowing them to learn more efficiently as a result.
In this article, you’ll learn all about gamification, including practical strategies and examples. By the end, you should know everything you need to get up and running with this contemporary eLearning strategy.
What Is Gamification in Learning & Why Is It Important?
Gamification is the process of using game elements in a non-game context. In other words, it is about applying gaming strategies to improve learning and make it more engaging for individuals.
Gamification for learning can be beneficial because games instill lifelong skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, social awareness, cooperation, and collaboration.
Games also motivate individuals, increase interest in certain subjects, reduce the rate of attrition among learners, improve grades, and enhance their cognitive abilities.
Did You Know?
The global gamification market’s estimated CAGR growth is 30%, around $31 billion, between 2020 and 2025 compared to 2019.
Neuroscience of Gamification
Gamification psychology is a field that studies the behavior of users in gamified systems. In other words, it focuses on how to understand and influence people’s behaviors through gaming methods.
Studies have shown that the brain works in harmony with gamification and that it triggers the release of dopamine, which gives players an increased feeling of motivation and enjoyment. But how exactly do they work together?
1. Gamification Connects People on an Emotional Level
Emotions can be a powerful tool for learning. They help to facilitate encoding and retrieval of information more effectively, making the learning process much more efficient.
Gamification creates an emotional connection between the content and students. It strongly influences the individual’s attention, which makes them more receptive to learning.
2. Recall Is Controlled by the Hippocampus
The hippocampus is the part of the brain that controls the amount of information we recall or remember. It’s no surprise, then, that gamification helps students retain better what they’ve learned during class.
Gamification stimulates the hippocampal memory, which helps promote the storage of new information into long-term memory. Moreover, dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked with learning and memory, is also released from the hippocampus, which helps maintain focus on a task.
3. Stories Are Easier for the Brain to Process Than Facts
The brain processes stories more effectively than it does a string of facts. For this reason, storytelling is a fantastic way of delivering new information to students. Gamification greatly benefits from using this strategy, as games often include story-telling elements such as background, characters, plot twists, and more.
4. Game Playing Improves Endorphin Release
Endorphins are natural painkillers that improve relaxation, calm, and focus. They’re naturally produced by the body while playing games and performing other engaging activities. Gamification strategies improve endorphin release, helping to create an environment ideal for focused learning.
5. Playing Games Keeps Your Brain Healthy
Games encourage neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to respond to different stimuli and develop new connections. This kind of training can strengthen neural pathways, increase cognitive skills such as memory and attention, enhance creativity and problem-solving skills, and help prevent age-related cognitive decline.
Gamification vs. Games
Game-based learning makes games a part of the learning process. It is an instructional method where students learn specific skills or knowledge from playing an actual game. This type of learning takes educational content and transforms it into a game that students can play.
On the other hand, Gamification only makes use of game elements in a non-game context to enhance content comprehension and promote better retention of information. The main goal is still to improve student engagement, but gamification does not necessarily aim to teach them something new.
Strategies in Gamification for Learning
There are a variety of gamification strategies that you can incorporate into your learning environment. The most popular ones are:
1. Point Systems
Assigning points for completing different tasks can encourage individuals to work hard. It also provides an accurate representation of their effort level to show how much they have progressed throughout the course or lesson.
Badges are a fantastic way to acknowledge and reward people for their efforts. A badge is an award given in the form of a virtual object or a pinned image on your profile. It is a fantastic way to show that you value the hard work and effort put into the task.
Leaderboards are great for creating competition amongst students, as they will want to see their name on top and work harder as a result. You can even create separate leaderboards based on different teams, dividing the individuals into smaller groups for better competition.
A challenge is a task that requires an individual to complete something using their time and effort, but it does not have any negative impact if failed or done incorrectly. Challenges can incorporate learning strategies such as problem-solving skills where individuals need to think outside the box to develop a solution.
Other gamification techniques or strategies could include using the element of surprise to keep it exciting and allow users to ‘unlock’ certain features or content in the game by completing a task.
Gamified healthcare apps are one way to distract children from the fact that they are undergoing medical treatment.
Examples of Gamification in Learning
Gamification helps improve the learning experience in many ways, whether it’s through academic, industrial, or business contexts. In this section, we’ll take a look at a few of the most practical ways you can gamify learning.
Gamification in Education
There are several great examples of gamification in education that can help you form your own gamified teaching strategy. However, before diving into different examples, let’s first look at game elements you should consider in the school setting.
- Immediate feedback
- “Scaffolded learning” with challenges that increase
- Progress indicators (e.g., points, badges, leaderboards)
- Social connection
- Player control
Now that you know the different elements you can use, let’s look at some of the best examples.
1. Giving Points for Meeting Academic Objectives
Giving points for meeting objectives can be an excellent way to motivate students. It can also help track progress and increase engagement.
2. Giving Points for Accomplishing Non-academic Objectives
Teachers can also reward non-academic objectives, like tidying up the classroom, with points. This helps motivate learners to meet both academic and non-academic goals, which encourages their overall success.
3. Reflect on Personalized Performance
Reflecting on personalized performance helps students to identify and track their progress. It is a good way for learners to self-assess what they’ve learned, predict the outcomes of future behavior, and see how far they need to go to succeed.
4. Using Different Methods of “Progression”
Opting to use levels and checkpoints can help learners to feel like they are progressing through the game. This makes them want to find out what happens next, which keeps their attention focused on learning.
5. Provide the Option to Give Badges Rather Than Points
Badges also work well when it comes to motivating and encouraging students. An effective alternative to points, badges are a great way to implement an element of competition into the classroom.
They can also help create a sense of community and increase engagement in the classroom, which is fantastic for learning success.
6. Use Different Platforms or Applications
Using different platforms or applications is a great way to keep students engaged. Teachers can achieve student engagement through tablets, smartphones, and more to allow learners to access their learning resources anytime and anywhere.
Using technology in this manner helps increase student engagement and motivation, which are both essential for supporting effective learning. Some examples could be the following:
- Khan Academy
Khan Academy is a next-generation education non-profit that provides completely free online learning to its students. It routinely employs gamification practices to assist in the measurement of progress and achievements, as well as allow students to compete through badges, leaderboards, and more.
Quizlet is a recently popularized tool that utilizes gamification to produce simple, effective quizzes on study material. Students using Quizlet often learn more effectively and with more engagement than those that use traditional flash-card based approaches.
Duolingo is an education platform that has applied gamification. It is a platform where users learn languages through practice and play. Learners can acquire points, level up, and compete with others to stay motivated in the learning process.
Kahoot! is an educational game-based learning platform that teachers can use in the classroom, but it uses many game mechanics that follow the gamification methodology. It has a ‘ghost mode’ wherein students can challenge themselves to beat their scores, and it has leaderboards to compete with one another.
Users create their games and quizzes which they then share with other teachers, students, or users who may want to play them online at any time of day.
- Google Read-Along App
The Google Read-Along app is a great example of gamification in education. It uses gamified features such as points and badges to help improve the reading experience for young learners who are just beginning their journey with books.
This can be used in both primary and secondary schools, especially when motivating students towards literacy goals and improving their overall reading skills.
Gamification in Business
Businesses are also increasingly utilizing gamification to improve employee results by making the tedium of daily work into a fun and productive exercise.
Here are a few examples of gamification in business:
1. Interactive Leaderboards
Leaderboards are a great way of encouraging employees to keep improving. By making them aware that the rest of the team can see their progress, leaderboards help motivate employees to perform better and aim higher.
It also helps create competition within teams, which can lead to improved teamwork and collaboration between fellow employees who are working towards a common goal. A points-based leaderboard can gamify this.
Spin-to-wins are a great way to motivate employees towards better performance. It is similar to the ‘spin’ feature on slot machines in that it encourages users to keep playing; the allure of winning big time or gaining something valuable to improve their user experience encourages them to perform better.
3. Goal Tracking Progress Bar
Goal tracking progress bars are a great way to motivate employees towards achieving set goals. The bar makes them aware of their performance and compares it with the company’s overall goal, thus making them more determined than ever to do better.
These can be applied in both small businesses and large corporations where employees work together to achieve better results for the company.
4. Point-Based Travel Opportunities
Point-based travel opportunities are a new and effective way companies are motivating their employees. Improved work results lead to acquiring points, which later reward employees through allowing them to partake in events, travel opportunities, and more.
5. Employee Points Reward Programs
Employee points reward programs are another gamification example used in the business world. These allow employees to receive points for improved performance, enhanced customer satisfaction levels, and better attendance at work. The points can then be redeemed for great prizes or rewards, such as restaurant gift cards or movie tickets.
Did you know?
Employees who participate in gamification are more 50% more productive and 60% more engaged.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Is Gamification Relevant Only To Learning?
No. Gamification can be applied to any activity or goal that needs encouragement and motivation towards better performance, thus resulting in improved results for the individual and their team.
Who Invented Gamification, and When Did It Start?
Nick Pelling, computer programmer and investigative writer, coined the term gamification in 2002.
- Do Games Really Help You Learn?
The answer depends on how well-designed the educational game is. In some cases, studies have shown that games may help students learn better and faster compared to traditional teaching methods.
- How Does Gamification Help in Learning Techniques?
Gamification for learning is not just for entertainment. It can also be applied to learn new techniques by using various incentives to encourage people to explore new ways of doing things.
- How Do I Design My Learning Game Effectively?
Generally speaking, a learning game includes three things: a defined goal, a set of rules, and a way to earn points. Ideally, it would also involve some sort of engagement from the user, and be easy to comprehend while staying relevant to your end topic.
Author: Mario Buljan
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