Gamification in Education: All You Need to Know

Gamification is one of the most upcoming global trends for learning. The use of gamification in education is structured towards solving learning problems and working towards improving the short attention spans for the millennial generation. 

According to Docebo, an international learning management system (LMS) provider, the eLearning market is predicted to have remarkable growth in the next five years (E-Learning Market Trends and Forecast 2017-2021). 

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The elements in games work as important tools for human learning. Problem-solving skills are required in all professions, and gamification adopted during the educational stages of a user helps them work through it. 

Gamification in education helps promote teamwork, competition, focus, and interaction between students. The rich narratives used by gamification in education and eLearning target the innate creativity and imagination in students while laying down various modules of learning, teaching, and assessment. 

The key elements of gamification are well suited for modern generation students. Various elements like catchy storylines, visual aesthetics, play-based rules, healthy competition, badges and rewards, prompt feedback, levels etc help the students to quickly grasp the subjects in an interesting manner. 

While gamification techniques have experienced widespread success in fields like marketing, corporate training, etc, they are now being encouraged for use in the learning sectors by educationists across the globe. 

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Gamification in education domain is now picking up fast. Since gamification brings forth immersive learning, the knowledge is easily retained and used by students in real-life scenarios.  

After all, is there a better way to learn a subject than by doing so while playing?

The article here focusses on the appeal factor of gamification in education, its advantages, the key techniques that are commonly used and some real-world examples with success stories around the globe and in Malaysia. 

Gamification and Education

As mentioned earlier, gamification in education is a sector that’s growing fast. 

Ever wondered what makes gamification techniques so successful to students and so appealing for use with leading educationists?

The curiosity factor. 

gamification in education
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Read on to know more about it in the following section.

The appeal for learners- curiosity factor

Gamification in education has grown to a significant $93 million share in the year 2015 and is expected to reach close to $1.2 billion by the year 2020.(Source” Global Education Gamification Market 2016-2020.)

So what are the factors responsible for this surge?

Various gamification techniques and elements like badges, rewards, leaderboards are specifically designed to work on learner’s motivation and accomplish higher challenges and goals. 

Human brains have a natural appetite for curiosity, information, and experiences. The attraction for taking in the flood of information via attractive social media, apps, and games is almost irresistible. 

Curiosity triggers engagement.

Students feel the need to navigate through the game design, rules and levels that churn endlesssly while taking them through new study modules effortlessly. This creates a wonderful cognitive environment that creates high levels of meaningful engagement. Students need to be aware of what and how much they know. 

Difference between game-based learning and gamification

While the two terms have been repeatedly used as synonyms, there is a crucial line of difference that needs to be understood. 

Game-based learnings work by creating content around a creative game story. However, gamification is about creating the game around the content (in this case, educational content/study modules).

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The overall goal of gamification is that user engagement should ultimately be translated into long term learning. It also targets to influence student behavior.

Read our article on Gamification: A Complete Guide for 2019 to get a thorough understadning of gamification, techniques, elements, examples, and advantages.

Short attention spans are one of the most serious hindrances for learning in modern times. Gamification makes use of the student’s natural curiosity and willingness to spend hours solving puzzles and gaming challenges to facilitate learning at the same time. 

Game designers focus on using the potential within social media-based or vide games to trigger learner motivation. 

Game designers have long since understood the use of gaming elements like leaderboards, badges, points, and rewards to enhance learner motivation. While all these elements are still being used, gamification designers these days make use of various other attractive rich game elements for better learning. 

These elements are usually designed in order to draw the attention of the students and keep them engaged until the end of the game. Elements that enhance learning through playing and problem solving skills are added in the game design. 

Some of the main elements that are solely added to trigger curiosity within the students/learners and keep them engaged include:

  • Visual design- Appealing designs, colors, and content are the first point of attraction within a game
  • Creative storyline
  • An element of mystery– Learners need to use their knowledge to fill in the missing links/gaps while playing the game and moving on to the next level
  • Challenge- Challenges naturally trigger the human mind with a need to overcome them. Game designers use this advantage to promote learning.
  • Action- Actions motivate the learners to make a move. The need to collect missing links, look for a treasure, etc is a way to incorporate action to engage the learners.  
  • Risks- Adding risks at appropriate levels increases the appeal of the game. The risk of losing points, lifeline, etc challenges the learner to focus more and work on their learnings. 
  • Emotions- Games touch various emotional chords like anger, sadness, enthusiasm, etc. Game elements are incorporated in order to bring out the best from human emotions and use them for learning. 
  • Surprise- Not knowing what comes next creates learner interest. 
  • Tracking progress- The ability t see your own progress graph can be very motivating. 

Advantages of gamification in education

Games are engaging. 

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Games are fun

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Making use of these simple facts to create a positive learning environment is what gamification in education stands for. 

Gamification in education has various advantages. Following are some of the noticeable effects of incorporating gamification in eLearning:

  • Games help make learning fun
  • Games enhance the learning experience/journey
  • Triggers a willingness to learn
  • Helps in building learner motivation
  • Promotes feedback-based learning
  • Influences learner behavior
  • Helps create long term knowledge retention for use in real-life scenarios
  • Encourages teamwork

Key Techniques Used for Gamification in Education

There is a big list of possibilities when thinking of introducing gamification within a classroom or a curriculum. The following are some engaging ideas of using the advantages of gamification for education. 

1. Gamify grading

The constant push to achieve better grades is a disturbing factor for most students. Abandoning grades and changing them for learning points achieved in a game helps the students work harder for achieving more. Students feel rewarded for what they have learned through their curriculum, rather than being disheartened by seeing grades which point towards the missing gaps. 

2. Awards and badges for students

Awards and recognition go a long way in motivating, especially for students. 

Remember how the star stickers in kindergarten work magically for toddlers starting their learning journey?

Turns out, the same system works well all through the human life cycle. 

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Awarding students/learners with badges for the perseverance or achieving a particular skill level helps them grow and move towards higher challenges. 

3. Gamifying the curriculum with educational videos

The use of technology in the education sector is not new. Integrating educational videos with gaming elements encourages the students to learn, fail, overcome and work harder towards achieving their planned targets. 

Practicing overwhelming subjects like Maths through intriguing video games makes learning fun and helps the students use their knowledge more effectively in real-world scenarios. 

4. Include healthy competition

Triggering the competitive spark in students helps them t perform better. Ideas like game-based tournaments are great motivators for students to learn and perform. This not just helps in creating healthy competition but also works by boosting student morale. Students feel more energized to show their skills and see their names on the top position of the leaderboard. 

5. Class rewards

Moving beyond individual rewards and badges to class rewards motivates the students to learn and work as a team. Games that include team goals work exceptionally well, with students helping each other to learn and achieve higher levels.

6. Homework gamification

The final objective of education is to help students use the leaning in life environments. Games help in long term knowledge retention and taking back the knowledge to informal situations of life. Top educationists believe that working and using the learnings outside the class is as important as classroom learning. 

Examples of gamification in education

As mentioned above, gamification in education is picking up fast. Various success stories show the immense potential of gamification as a modern learning strategy. 

Following are some amazing, eye-catching examples of gamification in education:

1. Medieval Swansea: This history-based game is highly engaging. It helps the learners work on their knowledge by going through an intriguing mystery where the learners are required to play the detective!

2. DuoLingo: The game has been devised for language learning with different levels that change based on the skills of the learners. Learners get to use features like document translation. They can also track their own and other learners’ progress and provide feedback. Points are awarded for timely completion of fo tasks.

3. Brainscape: This game encourages users to create flashcards to improve memory and promote long term learning. Students are motivated to learn in a comprehensive manner using these flashcards. 

4. Knowre: This highly adaptive math curriculum helps the teachers to personalize the study material based on the individual skills of each student. Personalized instructions are provided to the students which works as a one to one learning mode. 

5. Virtonomics: This higher learning game helps students use their strategic and analytic thinking skills to learn about important aspects of the business world and economy. 

Gamification in education sector, Malaysia

Malaysia, following the path of leading educational institutes around the globe has understood the importance of integrating gamification techniques to the learning modules of education curriculums. 

The country values the importance of creating future citizens who can use their classroom knowledge in real-life scenarios and can balance their academic and non-academic growth. 

Various Malaysian institutes like Sunway University are working towards adapting gamification techniques within their study modules. As professor Hew Gill says: “Gamification is important to generate better ways of ways of enhancing student/learner experience while aligning self-development for real-life scenarios”. 

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