The term gamification is not new; we see and experience it everywhere, from fitness to finance, whether it’s an app rewarding our morning run or a credit card provider encouraging us to level up our loyalty points. The benefits of play-based learning have also been well-documented, especially amongst edtech communities. Gamification taps into an innate drive towards mastery and empowers learners with agency.
Learning can and should be fun, but the intersection of learning and digital play at higher levels of education merits a deeper investigation, especially as careers in tech surge and video games cement themselves as the defining entertainment medium of our time.
To explore these concepts we brought together more than 50 educators and game makers to swap impressions and ideas about a more holistic approach to gamification that reaches beyond edtech apps for kids or points, badges, leaderboards and rewards in individual lessons.
“Many teachers tend to approach gamification through a single application or teaching practice point of view. If we understand the gamification concept to be wider, we can engage the whole learning community to implement gaming or playful learning pedagogies,"
“Many teachers tend to approach gamification through a single application or teaching practice point of view. If we understand the gamification concept to be wider, we can engage the whole learning community to implement gaming or playful learning pedagogies," said Diana Molenschot-Kloos Teacher trainer at Thomas More University in Rotterdam, who attended the meetup.
Educators said that at present most gamified elements are supplemental and lack purposeful integration into higher ed systems.
“If schools adopted broader game design concepts, students would be more likely to master the domain they play in. It’s comfortable for them to play and fail in games but it’s not the mindset in school,” said Stephen Waddell from North Carolina State University.
Gaming ecosystems provide a sense of belonging by building community, facilitating friendships and encouraging teamwork. Their narratives foster empathy by helping us tell our stories and experience the stories of others. Their mechanics cultivate self-esteem by rewarding perseverance, problem solving, creativity and self-expression; and self-actualisation through necessitating decision-making, critical thinking, strategy and leadership.
David Brecht, a district administrator in Minnesota, echoed the benefits of providing students the opportunity to fail in an environment that’s safe, and then progress. Like many others he said he was interested in taking those same concepts and applying them to long-term learning, but wasn’t sure how.
We learned that many educators don’t feel equipped to take advantage of this space, and find the rapidly-evolving technology difficult to keep up with.
“Teachers aren’t trained to create gamified experiences,” said Brecht. “We need to build teacher capacity.”
Many in the room agreed that for students to be successful, it’s necessary to take their whole environment into consideration, which means engaging both teachers and parents in the merits of gamified learning.
For our part we hope to shed more light on this space and facilitate conversations to help both the games industry and education sector make the most of what could be.
Do you know an excellent innovation for the Gamified Curricula Spotlight?
If you know innovative organisations incorporating gamification within curriculum, please let those innovators know about HundrED & Supercell’s Spotlight on Gamified Curricula. Our goal is to identify 10-15 solutions that motivate learners and enhance their engagement, knowledge retention, and overall experience with the subject material. The research results will be shared with the education sector for free, and we hope they will serve as an inspiration for education organisers, schools and educators to implement these innovations within their context.