What Is a Gamification Learning Approach?

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What Is a Gamification Learning Approach?

By Chris Daily

Did your teacher ever play Jeopardy with your class in high school? Those were our favorite days of class. Everybody would come in and get a break from the boring lessons from your textbook.

Don't you wish more of the learning experience was like that? The good news is that things are slowly moving in that direction. Gamification learning is becoming more popular in schools across the country.

But, what exactly is the gamification learning approach? What does it involve? In today's day and age, you can be sure there's a lot more to it than playing Jeopardy.

Consider this article your go-to guide for gamification in education. We're going to discuss how e-learning, simulated experiences, and other gamified engagement approaches can optimize your students' educational experiences.

Once you implement gamified engagement approaches in your curriculum, you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner. So, read along with us until the end of this article. Let us take you on the path to becoming a gamification expert.

Explaining Gamification Learning

Gamification learning is the process of integrating games into the learning experience. This can be through a game like Jeopardy, as we mentioned in the introduction of this piece. It can also be through providing students with awards and badges based on their performance.

Some teachers even implement gamification by keeping score on a leaderboard in their classroom. But, how does gamification work? Why is it so effective and why is there a mass movement toward its widespread use?

One of the main reasons is that fun experiences lead students to experience more immersion in their subject matter. Gamification also leads to higher levels of student motivation and engagement.

By adding a "game" element to the classroom, teachers are doing more than just keeping their students engaged. They're also helping them grow.

Gamification not only teaches them the concepts they need to do well on tests and quizzes. Gamification, in the form of icebreakers, can set the tone for what comes next.  It's also helping students become more well-rounded individuals overall.

This concept often gets confused with game-based learning. But the two approaches are actually different. Gamification takes the aspects of games that are so entertaining and applies them to learning activities.

Game-based learning is when students play games that help them learn. An example would be an electronic exercise on a Leapfrog tablet.

Gamification Examples

We understand that the line between gamification and game-based learning can be thin. Therefore, we thought it might be helpful to look at some examples of gamification.

One example would be giving students experience points. These experience points may lead toward their mastery of a certain subject.

Another example would be badges that reward students for achieving a substantial milestone or mastering a particular concept. Sound familiar? The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America have operated off of this principle for decades.

Girls and Boys in these organizations earn badges for mastering a variety of skills. They also receive badges and pins for passing major tests at certain points throughout their careers. Coming up through the ranks of the Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts is one of the best examples of a gamification learning approach at work.

Benefits of A Gamification Learning Approach

Now that we understand more about how a gamification learning approach might work, let's dive into some of the benefits. The beauty of gamification learning is that it does more than just teach students educational concepts. They also learn other intangible skills.

These are known as "soft skills". Learning these soft skills provides them with a significant advantage during their academic careers. It also gives them a "leg up" when they enter the job market as adults.

Let's take a look at the benefits of gamification in more detail.

Students Are More Resilient

It's just a game! When you integrate games into the learning process, the learning itself takes on the aspects of a game. One of those positive aspects is that it makes students more resilient. When they're learning in the context of a fun, exciting game, students are less afraid to fail.

Students develop more of a "play again" than a "game over" mentality. This will translate to their emotional health later in life. When things happen to them in life, or at work, they'll be quicker to bounce back. 

This is because they know they'll always have another shot. Imagine what you could do if you were aware there's always a second chance to try again.

A Sense of Pride

Students are also more likely to share their accomplishments with their peers through gamification. The learning games students participate in start to become social activities. As a result, they increase bonding and teamwork between classmates.

Students may even develop long-term friendships out of collaborative games played together in class. They also learn the important skill of teamwork. It's something that will definitely serve them as they enter the workforce later on in life.

Continue Their Learning

Making learning fun and exciting means students will want to learn more. By showing students they can learn and still be engaged, they're more likely to continue learning.

Students who have a positive experience interacting with your curriculum through learning games will want to take their learning further. This may even develop a lifelong love for the subject you're teaching them.

In that regard, effective gamification may help students to choose a career path.

Putting Gamification Into Practice

The concept of gamification is easy enough to grasp. You're optimizing your students' learning by making the process more fun and exciting. But some teachers may struggle with how to take this concept into the classroom.

There are a number of different techniques teachers can use to implement gamification effectively. Badges and leaderboards are two of the most popular.

This is seen often at the elementary school level. Students are given stickers for a good performance in their coursework. Occasionally, teachers will keep track of students' progress on a scoreboard.

Students may earn an "X" or checkmark on the scoreboard every time they do something positive. At the end of the week, they receive an award or reward based on their "score" for that week.

Other teachers will make a game out of the assignments themselves. They'll turn assignments into quests that students have to complete. 

Throughout the course of the assignment, students have different choices to make that may change the outcome. These quests work in the same way as a "choose your own ending" adventure or a role-playing video game. 

This quest gamification of assignments allows students to go off in their own direction. They develop a newfound sense of individuality as they begin to explore their own interests.

That's an intangible benefit of the gamification learning approach that traditional learning doesn't provide. 

Your Path to A Gamified Classroom

Now that you know some of the popular gamification techniques, we're going to give you a roadmap to get your classroom there. All it takes is a little planning and creativity.

If you're thinking about how to gamify a particular concept or lesson, just follow the guidelines below.

1. Choose Wisely

The first step is deciding what elements of the study curriculum can and should be gamified. Take a look at what elements of this concept might seem "boring". If it's an area that has historically caused students to lose motivation, you may want to look at how you can make it into a game.

Any aspects of a subject that cause students to lose motivation and engagement are opportunities for gamification.

2. Know Your Students

Gamification only works if your students are excited about the opportunity. One way to ensure this is to turn your lessons into games that your students are already familiar with.

If you're at a loss for how to connect with them, ask them for suggestions. Having a class vote a few days before your game may be a good way to get insight into what they'd like to play.

3. Establish the Rules

Whether you're playing tag or hide-and-go-seek, every game has rules. You have to establish the rules for your game with your students. How they advance in the game, the game's penalties, and the ultimate reward need to be clearly defined.

The game would be unfair if everyone didn't know all of the rules.

4. Make Your Game Flexible

While there needs to be rules, there should also be some "wiggle room" in the structure of your game. You can do this by giving students choices.

Give them multiple options to move forward in the game. Every student has different skills and abilities. Give them the opportunity to use them in a way that's fair for everyone.

5. Teach Multiple Subjects

Another way to make your gamification effective is to incorporate multiple subjects. Usually, the school curriculum is grouped together in the same way. Math and Science teachers cover similar subjects and so do English and History teachers.

Whichever subject you're teaching, it may help to incorporate concepts from a similar subject. This may require sharing your gamification ideas with the other teacher involved.

Now, both the students and teachers are learning about teamwork. It's a beautiful thing!

6. Track Your Progress

We know gamification involves tracking the students' progress. As a teacher, you should be tracking your own progress as well.

How is your gamification process working? Are you seeing improvements in your students' performance? Take continuous notes on what's working and not working.

After a few semesters of using this gamified approach, you'll have plenty of notes on how to make it work perfectly. 

Learning Can Be Fun

Thanks to gamification learning, schoolwork doesn't have to be boring and dull. Both students and teachers can become more engaged and motivated. Engagement on both sides will significantly improve your students' results.

If you're looking for resources to help your gamified learning approach, beLithe has you covered. Contact us today and we can work on implementing technology in your gamified learning approach.


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