Gamification is a popular educational approach turning boring academic routine into an exciting adventure. Teachers apply fun and entertaining elements in a learning environment. Their main goal is to provide stimuli for studying, awaken young people’s enthusiasm, and form desired behavior. Just like in video games, students get different trophies, rewards, and titles, which encourages hard work and allows them to feel pride. Personal motivation is stimulated through the means and circumstances of the outside world, so learners are inspired both internally and externally.
Experts from Pro Papers have written this article to show why gamification is a great choice for educational institutions, how it is used today and uncovers important nuances of the learning processes.
Some academics resist this format or perceive games only as a recreational element, something which allows young people to rest from serious science, satisfies their whims, and makes learning less boring. But gamification should not be considered as a pause between lessons. It should become an indispensable part of a daily academic routine, the basis of different assignments and activities.
Gamification elements in our life
Gamification has penetrated into all areas of human life, so it cannot be perceived as something extraneous. Exciting educational products developed by software companies reflect our everyday choices and actions. They do not mislead learners and distract them from the real world, as some people think. The gaming space is a springboard for real victories, accomplishments, ambitious goals, and genius ideas. Students may learn to communicate efficiently and work in groups, develop skills which would come in handy when building a career or relationships with other people.
Kids play since the first years of life, and this process continues in the classroom. They make efforts to get high marks like points in a game, strive to become class leaders and sports team captains to boast these titles, participate in Olympiads and competitions. After graduating from school, young people compete for prestigious workplaces, access to colleges, grants, and scholarships.
There are many rewards we can get throughout our lives: Boy Scout badges, many likes and friends in social networks, platinum credit cards, flights in first-class jets, academic degrees, honorable titles, sports records, etc. Even marking cities on a map while traveling may be considered as a kind of victory and a gamification element.
Gamification teaches students to perceive life as a game, do everything with pleasure and ease, approach challenges with interest and enthusiasm, not treat failure as a tragedy, remember that young people can always recover, restart their quests, and play again.
Grading and gamification
It is worth not thinking that education is all about bureaucracy, dull classrooms, heavy backpacks, tedious note-taking, and reading textbooks. Schools have been gamified for years. Letter grades are actively used as valuable trophies now. Learners get tasks, instructions, and should complete work by a certain time to get a reward.
Letter marks are something more than just entries to a grading book. They allow students to move from lower levels in the academic hierarchy to higher strata. Students may be considered as a prestigious, respected class which all learners wish to join. They should pass a number of quests, gain experience, improve reputation, and gain privileges. This approach shows that great results require significant efforts, teaches students to be persistent and determined, go to their dreams, overcome obstacles, and believe in themselves.
Class rankings are compiled to encourage competition and the desire to collect as many A’s as possible. It is always pleasant to be a champion, a student of the month, get compliments from teachers and peers.
Are grades enough?
Even though letter grading is a popular gamification element, it cannot be considered as a universal answer to all questions. Grades provide information on whether a student has performed certain assignments and whether one has certain skills. But one’s interests, natural inclinations, progress, learning history, life goals, and potential go unnoticed.
Educators over-simplify the educational process, try to quantify indicators which naturally may be considered only from a qualitative perspective. With a variety of learning styles, unique backgrounds of different teachers and students, a large number of changeable factors influencing the educational process, it is impossible to transmit all valuable information through one symbol.
Gamification and personalized learning
Games should be used with the view of individual nuances. Educators should create personalized learning strategies corresponding to the capabilities and needs of their students. It is worth understanding that not everyone strives to get trophies and become a class leader, is ready to perform challenging and boring assignments just to have the right to call oneself an A student.
Some learners value the process much more than results. Therefore, the educational process should be interesting and engaging. To choose the best rewards and interest these students, teachers should collect information on what they like, what experience they have, track not only victories and failures but also each step, choice, or learning-related emotion.
An outcomes-based instruction has led to the fact that students started to perceive education as hard labor, something that they should endure to avoid punishment. There is always somebody smarter or more talented. Young people get upset when professors compare them with more successful peers.
It is worth assessing person’s achievements in the context of one’s own progress rather than state standards and commonly accepted norms. Modern technical means and progressive teaching approaches allow to support each learner, make one’s experience unique and bright, nurture self-sufficiency, and create healthy communities in which every person has one’s own place.
It is time to expand teachers’ vision and implement personalized gamification in schools and universities. There are countless effective strategies, innovations in instruction and curriculum design which may be used to improve the educational process. It is crucial to perceive games as something more than entertainment, badges, and titles, focus on student empowerment, revise the definition of academic success, and pay more attention to young people’s needs.