Gamification is taking the world of education by storm in recent years and is here to make the hard stuff fun and undoubtedly, easier to learn.
Gamification provides students with experiential learning, piques students’ interest and keeps them engaged during lessons. 21st century’s students get bombarded by information and images almost constantly. To keep up, teachers are required to constantly reassess their techniques to be in line with the times.
Adding elements of gameplay in the classroom increases engagement and provides opportunities for students to level up.
But, how can you bring elements of gameplay into your classroom in meaningful ways?
Gamifying lessons do not have to be difficult; as a teacher, you can use a variety of techniques to add game elements to your classroom.
Here are some ways to gamify your classroom:
- Let students Co-Design Learning Experiences
Presenting the class materials in the form of gamification is one of the easiest ways to gamify your classroom. Working with students to develop the narrative of the class, pushes students to learn and deepens their understanding of the learning process.
As a result, students will be co-designing the learning experience and will be put behind the wheel of their own learning, allowing each one of them to express creativity in the classroom.
Class and assignment design is a collaborative effort, it gives students a sense of ownership towards the outcome of the class, it motivates them to participate and succeed within the class narrative. Additionally, students who would otherwise struggle in a traditional classroom setting, get the opportunity to be involved in creating a learning space they can excel in.
Example: Have students spend 10-15 mins working in groups on any available device to look up all the information related to the unit introduced in your classroom. It will provide you with invaluable insight to design the lesson, by seeing the focus of student research and where exactly the need exists to broaden the class perspective.
- Give Second Chances. And Third
Both in games and life, success isn’t guaranteed and failure is an essential component of success. In a gamified classroom, students should be allowed to fail and learn from their mistakes without feeling discouraged to try again.
Giving your students a second or third chance motivates them to master a skill and also eliminates the stigma of failure. Although it requires additional work in terms of evaluation for teachers, students’ performance and understanding assuredly rise.
A gamified classroom is about allowing students to try again, either they succeed or fail.
The true essence of a gamified classroom is about letting students who succeed right at the first go, have the opportunity to either move to the next challenge or try to improve in the same. At the same time, those who failed the first time must be allowed to learn from their mistakes and try again until they succeed.
- Don’t Forget the Feedback (The sooner the better)
Feedback is meant to help students compete against their own personal bests rather than each other. Meaningful feedback works as a guided next step towards achievements and can greatly enhance students’ learning.
When students have access to feedback, they easily develop awareness towards learning, recognize mistakes and eventually develop strategies for tackling weak points themselves. In a gamified setting, instant feedback is essential but it isn’t always easy.
Though computers provide immediate feedback in video games, of course, a teacher can’t provide individual students with feedback right on the spot, but sooner is definitely better than later.
To begin with, you can split the class up into groups or learning teams, each with their own names and characteristics. Based on the class narrative, students can have the option to work together on assignments, provide feedback to each other and receive support from the instructor as needed.
- Make Progress Visible (Not in Terms of Number Always!)
Progress doesn’t always have to be measured in terms of data, It can be as simple as accumulating knowledge, demonstrating understanding and applying skills and techniques in a classroom activity.
Measuring progress adds more purpose to classroom learning and motivates students. It also helps students understand how their learning links to the previous classroom session’s learning.
Students should be a part of the process, the key to good progress being made comes from the partnership between you and the students. Teaching and learning happen together – and progress is the outcome of good teaching and learning!
Gamified classrooms can implement elements that indicate how close students are to reaching the next level. Instead of issuing grades or percentages, teachers can either issue progress bars to students or allow them to manage their own. With each completed assignment, test or homework, a certain amount of points can be added to their progress bar, bringing them closer to reaching the next level. It can be tremendous for students’ confidence, as they learn from their mistakes, and are motivated to raise their achievement to reach the next level.
- Create Challenges and Quests Instead Of Homework & Projects
A quest is a mission with an objective. It can also be referred to as independent projects or activities for the students. Generally, in games, users are constantly required to meet challenges, such as identify patterns, break codes or complete quests to advance. Similar elements can be applied to a gamified classroom, as homework and projects can be presented in a fun, yet challenging way. Just by altering the context in which the homework is presented, the act of learning can be transformed into a more enjoyable and significant activity.
For example, present homework as a challenge that must be completed to open a lock full of treats. Projects can also be presented in a similar epic context, drawing students towards learning in a new way.
It can also be a guided task that helps students choose a topic to research, and then analyze connections among the people, places, events and ideas related to their chosen topic. Students also evaluate its impacts.
To get started, ask them to
- Choose a Topic
- Browse the topic
- Make Connections
- And finally, Tell the Story
Using a quest in your class will help students become familiar with the topic, research deeply to collect valuable information, make meaningful connections with different aspects of the topic and summarize their experience with interesting conclusions and carefully explained and supported ideas.
- Give Students Voice & Choice
By giving students choice in the classroom, you allow them to foster and apply their knowledge in new, creative ways. Additionally, implementing the option to choose a different learning path will fill students with a sense of pride and ownership towards their work.
It also gives struggling students a tangible indication of how far they have come, allowing them to discern what they could have done better to get there.
For example, instead of issuing a test at the end of a subject, you can allow students to take different paths to demonstrate their understanding of the material. While some students may choose to develop a group project and presentation, others may write an essay, create a poster or express their understanding in some other creative ways like video and audio.
- Add Game Elements in the Classroom
The mere recognition of effort can go a long way in motivating students to continue learning and subsequently increasing student’s proficiency.
Gamification is the process by which game elements, like competition and badges, are used in conjunction with other learning activities in the classroom to increase motivation and engagement. It is a good way to recognize students’ achievements and incentivize them to continue raising their efforts in reaching academic goals.
Any tangible symbol of achievement is proven effective in encouraging students and can be a great tool for raising students’ confidence. Even if the badges or rewards are given for small and simpler tasks like attempting homework or for students’ continued effort to reach a goal.
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- Embrace Failure and Emphasize Practice
We as adults recognize that accepting failures can lead to growth. If kids learn to view failure as an opportunity to be embraced rather than something to be avoided, kids will be more willing to take on new challenges and will develop the strength to cope.
An effective gamified classroom should not merely focus on the curriculum being taught, but on the skills achieved, and the knowledge gained. The emphasis of gamification is to provide students with a fluid environment of self-directed learning. A gamified classroom must reinforce each students’ ability to handle any letdowns and remind them how much courage it took to attempt.
Through gamified classrooms, students learn meaningful skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and an understanding of how to apply the skills learnt. These are invaluable abilities that students will not only use in school but throughout their own personal and professional lives.
To get started, make room for failure and mistakes in your classroom, show them your readiness to struggle, fail, try again and succeed with them as a team. Although, sometimes making any mistake seems like the end of the world for them, ensure that you are there to tell them that it’s the beginning of a whole new journey.
Though there are different aspects of gamifying a classroom, it is undeniable that gamification provides students and teachers with a new and innovative way of facilitating learning.
Schools and teachers primarily use one approach to gamify their math classroom; they incorporate math-based games into the existing curriculum to replace less engaging content.
Gamification has the ability to teach students practical skills, foster collaboration and support students’ innate creativity, as well as motivate students to advance their own learning.