As educators, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our classes, whether it’s through new course content or the way we present that content. At least we should be. Kids are different than they were when we were kids and when are parents were kids. Because of this change, we should also change the way we teach content and embrace all that technology can offer. But it order to make the use of technology not just a novelty, but educational, we have to know how to best use it and if it’s the best tool to reach kids today.
One of the latest buzzwords in education modification is gamification. What exactly is gamification? It’s a word that get thrown around a lot but I think most probably just think it is incorporating games into the classroom. Merriam-Webster defines gamification as “the process of adding games or gamelike elements to something (such as a task) so as to encourage participation.” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gamification) When applying gamification to a classroom, the incorporation of these games and game-like elements should encourage participation, but it should also (and more importantly) increase engagement in the material and increase retention of the course content. But with such a broad definition, it’s hard to know where to start. Tools like Kahoot, Quizzlet, and pollAnywhere (just to name a few) allow educators to easily incorporate a gaming aspect to the classroom through competition quizzes that encourages participation. But do these random un-linked quizzes really increase engagement and retention throughout the duration of the course?
That’s when we need to take a deeper look at gamification and make sure that our efforts to meet students half way in the classroom through this incorporation is really paying off for both the educator and the students. To do this, and do this effectively, it is much MUCH more than a quiz here and there – and a must more complex combination of game types, learning objectives, and long-term engagement that will result in a fun and educational experience for everyone.
This series of blog posts will focus on gamification, the statistics about its effectiveness, and my own journey through research, design, and development of its implementation into my own courses. Hopefully we can both learn something through my failures and successes!