What is Gamification?
Let’s just be clear on one thing- gamification does not include playing video games. That’s game-based learning. We’ll get to what that is in a moment.
Gamification, according to Wikipedia, is the practice of applying game mechanics in non-game situations. In other words, using points and rewards and leader boards to help students progress. Gamification uses reward, recognition and motivation as its key mechanics. It’s a great way to boost competition and motivating students to do more and perform better.
As you master a topic and move up in difficulty level, you earn points. The more points you have, the better your position on the leaderboard. And the more skills you learn, the more content you end up unlocking. Sound familiar? It’s just as in every other game you’ve ever played. Only here, you’re learning something.
Since people like earning incentives- rewards, badges and merits- gamification of learning has worked out quite well for both teachers and students. But critiques say that incentives sometimes capture the focus of students more than the process of learning itself. They believe that when earning points begin to matter more than learning a subject, we’ve got trouble. It is also said that Gamification doesn’t really help struggling students either. But, a combination of adaptive learning and gamification does the trick.
Great websites where you can learn stuff and earn points- and lord it over others- are Duolingo, a place where you can master a whole new language; Ribbon Hero- where you learn everything there is on MS Office, and Corsalite- where you get to prep for major exams. Yukai Cho, a Stanford professor has a great list of gamification sites you can peruse.
So how is this different from game-based learning?
Game-based learning can also be called Video Game-Based Learning. This means that an actual game is integrated into your education. According to Educator’s Technology, games “elicit more attention and engagement.” This is true since you have great- and sometimes unusual- visual stimuli to grab your attention. In a well-designed game, you could be learning how to solve complex equations while killing aliens.
However, integrating learning content into games is something many educators struggle with. This article explains exactly what makes a great game-based learning experience. Challenging learners and helping them progress are key points. And then there is the whole ‘video games are not really good for children’ argument raging among educators.
Examples of successful game-based learning include Minecraft, Oregon Trail- the pioneer of game-based learning- and Sim City.