Gamified Learning: The Future of Education
Gamification is a fancy word that has been largely (and at times loosely) used in the education and learning sector for many years. But what does it mean and how can it lead to improved learning outcomes?
Simply put, the definition of gamification is the use of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts. It’s a way of designing a fun, engaging and motivating experience for the learner, with a set of activities and processes, leading to increased learner/user engagement and motivation and aimed to increase the learner outcome.
The principle of gamification is built on the release of dopamine when the brain is expecting a reward. When dopamine is released in large amounts, it creates feelings of pleasure and reward, which motivates the learner to repeat a specific behaviour. Thus, when learning is gamified, ‘it makes the hard stuff more fun’, thus helping to motivate students and make them more engaged with the subject matter. The mechanics thus employed are utilized to drive engagement in eLearning by tapping into specific learner motivations.
Just adding points or badges to a learning module is not gamification. Each game mechanic taps into different motivators, so to apply the right ones, you have to understand what motivators you are trying to activate, and how they align to the goal of the learning experience.
Gamification in learning
Gamification in learning involves using game-based elements such as point scoring, peer competition, teamwork, score tables to drive engagement, help students assimilate new information and test their knowledge. It can apply to school-based subjects but is also used widely in self-teaching apps and courses, showing that the effects of gamification do not stop when we are adults. Also, studies have also shown that gamified learning can significantly increase retention in long term.
Structural gamification is defined as “the application of game elements to propel a learner through content with NO alteration or changes to the content”. The content does not become game-like; only the structure around the content does.
Implementation of this type of gamification adopts the scoring and peer comparison viz: points, levels, badges, leaderboards, and achievements.
Learners can be given gamified rewards at various learning stages on completion and discipline. Based on the type of learners age groups and objectives, various techniques can be used to motivate or generate peer pressure to motivate the learner aim to do better.
Content gamification is defined as “representing the existing content in a gamified model with no alternation to the pedagogical impact or value”. It is possible to gamify various learning elements. Quiz/Assessment can be heavily used as learning components for gamification. In a non-gamified model, a Quiz can typically have questions with marks given for each correct and wrong answer with a scorecard shown at the end of the learner attempt. Whereas, in the game mode, the same Quiz can be easily gamified, wherein each wrong answer is made as a ‘time driven life’, while having a real-time ticker & display of participants and scores (marks).
Both these gamification techniques can be used conjunction in various blended learning models to engage the audience.