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Gamification in Education | Does it make school ‘cool’ or dumb it down?

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Gamification in education is a trend that’s picking up speed! But does it REALLY have educational benefits for our kids or should we be wary?

What is ‘Gamification in Education’?

Gamification looks to combine technology with learning to make educational experiences fun, interactive and enjoyable for a generation who are VERY used to being CONSTANTLY entertained. Video games and pedagogy link hands to pair educational concepts with video game design.

It’s not a case of ‘THIS IS AN EDUCATIONAL GAME’ but a more scientific approach that looks at the behaviour of video gamers and tries to apply that sense of engagement to a learning activity. If you’ve got a Minecraft addict in your house you KNOW that they’ll willingly devote hours and hours to designing, building and re-building. Gamification tries to match that kind of motivation and enthusiasm and see if that can be placed into an educational context.

Effort and reward payoff

Typically, gamers experience a variety of rewards as they play which enhance their experience and motivate them to continue.

They might level up, unlock an extra stage or a hidden feature, receive extra armour or features – the options are endless. This is a combination of both intrinsic (I want to get better) and extrinsic (I got better so I got rewarded) motivation that educators would LOVE to harness.

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How would gamification in education work in the classroom?

It could work in a number of ways. You might see :

  • Your teacher attaching a reward system to an accumulated tally (For example – if you receive X amount of positive scores in a certain time period they will collect and you’ll level up). This may be indicated by a poster or chart somewhere in the room or as part of an online student portal.
  • Children receiving badges or other indicators of achievement. This is a big feature in online games – other players can see your ‘level’ as indicated by some kind of visual code. Being awarded with points or badges may encourage and motivate students to keep going by tapping into a competitive aspect of their behaviour.
  • Children engaged in actual game playing. Some schools have been known to incorporate Minecraft into the classroom to tap into design, mathematical and physics elements. English classrooms have used programs like “Online Grammar Ninja” for years to teach parts of speech.
  • Children engaged in video game design (COOL!).

Do games have a place in the classroom?

The science suggests that the answer to this question is a resounding yes.

Students who enjoy themselves while they are learning are more motivated to continue. It just makes good sense. As an adult, you chose the job that you’re in (hopefully) because it’s one that speaks to your different individual skills and interests. Children MUST do the curriculum as set by the government so finding ways to make it more enjoyable and personalised just makes good sense.

Games are great for children across the spectrum. They can help children gain confidence, increase social skills, improve hand-eye coordination and tap into problem-solving skills.

Many parents have very legitimate objections to certain types of video games (of the non-educational variety!) and the impacts that they may have on young minds. It’s a topic that’s very personal and often fraught with controversy so we want to know…

What do you think about games in education?

What are your thoughts? Do you think that games have a place in the classroom? Let us know in the comments.

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