Gamification in education is an extremely popular topic. It seems as though everyone is talking about gamification and how great it is. But, what exactly is “it” and why is “it” so important?
According to Badgeville.org, gamification is, “the concept of applying game-design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging.”
So, what role can gamification play in education?
As teachers, we are always trying to encourage our students to explore content beyond what we require of them on standardized tests. We want to intrinsically motivate them to learn more and apply the concepts they’ve learned in our classroom to solve problems. Gamification can help!
Gamification in education is not brand new. As a youngster, I vividly remember playing “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” and getting so excited when “Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego?” By playing those games, I was applying concepts I had learned in school…geography and cultural concepts, as well as problem solving skills. Most of us can remember playing the Oregon Trail and succombing to dysentery at some point during the game. Gamification!
The question is, if gamification has been around so long, why is it all of a sudden gaining so much momentum and popularity?
- Technology is MUCH more accessible now than it was in the Carmen Sandiego days. I vividly remember feeling so lucky because mine was one of the few families in my class to have a computer in the early nineties. Now, more often than not our students either have smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, or some other form of electronic device with which they can access the Internet. We’ve definitely come a long way since the days of ski free on the Packard Bell 🙂
- Technology has improved drastically in recent years. If I would have told my grandparents that I would eventually be able to access something called the Internet, that it would connect me to people and ideas all over the world, that I could call someone and look at them at the same time, text, access Facebook, Twitter, and “social media,” all in the palm of my hand…after wrapping their head around a word like Twitter, they would have probably laughed hysterically, thinking I had just watched a science fiction movie. Anyone can easily see the HUGE improvement in graphics just by watching a Disney classic cartoon like Snow White, and then watching the amazing Frozen (which is watched at least three times daily in my house). Just a minor improvement, eh? 😉
- Here’s a great YouTube video that will show you just how much technology and particularly the “Internet” have changed in 20 years 🙂
- Teachers are fighting the same battle we have engaged in since the beginning of education…finding a way to engage and excite our students about learning. I’ll be the first to admit that Government can be a boring topic, if you’re not interested in it. However, when I used an iCivics activity last week in my classes, I actually had to tell my students to leave the site…and this is an AWESOME problem to have. They just wanted to “pass one more law,” or take part in “one more argument.” As a teacher, it was so incredibly gratifying to see my students excited about applying concepts I had taught them. These activities weren’t for a grade. They WANTED to participate in the games. WOOHOO!!!