What is Gamification anyway?

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As a parent I’m on a constant lookout for ways my son can be engaged and encouraged when it comes to his school work.  Sometimes he struggles at school and during these times, school can be a nightmare.  My son is easily discouraged when he hits a brick wall in his understanding, and the way things are setup now, the system just exacerbates his fears.

Teachers do their best to support him and bolster his confidence, but sometimes it’s just not enough.

After digging into this subject I realize this isn’t just a “my son” thing.  Lots of parents and teachers are constantly trying to address this problem.  In my hunt for a solution I came across the term Gamification.

So what is Gamification anyway?  After doing some research I was able to wrap my head around the concept.

At its heart, Gamification is about getting your audience to care about a behavior you want them to do.   

The audience could be students, employees, or customers.

Game Based Learning is DifferentLet’s make an important distinction here before we dive into Gamification.  The term Gamification and game based learning often get mixed up.

Game based learning is the act of using a game to teach something.  This could include playing Hangman or scrabble to teach spelling.  In essence, the act of playing the game helps you learn.  Gamification itself does not have anything to do with learning.

 

monopoly-111592_640As I said earlier, Gamification is about behavior and motivation.  An example of Gamification is the McDonald’s monopoly game.  They want you to buy more food, but they are hoping that wanting to win their monopoly game will motivate you to buy even more food than you normally do.

 

 

The Mechanics of Gamification include using:

  • Points
  • Levels
  • Challenges
  • Virtual goods and spaces
  • Leaderboards
  • Gifts and charity  

for motivating a behavior.  

homework-787270_640Let say for example you want your students to take turning homework (HW) in on time more serious.  An example of integrating game mechanics might include giving 10 points for each assignment turned in on time, 1 extra point for everyday early.  After students get to 15 points they are leveled up and given 20 virtual dollars which they can use in your class to buy a no HW day or candy.  You get the idea.

Turning in HW is not a game, but the act of turning in HW on time has now been Gamified.

 

There is a big debate within the education world about Extrinsic vs Intrinsic motivation.  I won’t go in depth here but you should know what the discussion is just in case Gamification comes up in the teachers lounge and someone wants to thumb their knows at you.

knowledge is powerThe argument against Gamification goes like this: you should strive to make kids want to learn for the right  intrinsic reasons (being a good citizen, the pursuit of knowledge, etc.), and giving them extrinsic motivation like points and levels is not truly helping them.

If you got this far in the post you’re probably leaning the same way I am.  I’ve taken what seems like an infinite amount of class, and 95% were not fun or engaging.  Presenting it in a structure to make it fun and engaging would have been nice.

If you’d like some examples of how to use Gamification in your classroom, sign up for my email list on the sidebar and I’ll send you my 5 easy ways to use Gamification in the classroom.

If you’d like to read more about Gamification in education go here, and if you want to see how an entire class room was Gamified, this is a Ted Talk by Paul Andersen.

I’d like to here what you think.  Leave me a comment below or sign up for my newsletter and drop me an email.

 

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