Welcome

Welcome to the place where it is okay to play.  Gamification is growing in the world of education.  It is our hope that you will use our site as a treasure map to maneuver the amazing world of gamification in education.  Have a question for us?  Have an idea?

Contact us below.  We love to hear from other educators!

What is Gamification?

gam·i·fi·ca·tion

/ɡāmifəˈkāSHən/
noun
  1. the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.

Imagine having a classroom where students can learn like they game! Think about it, when a student tries in class and fails, they give up! But when they try and fail in a game, they keep playing… they try again, and again, and again! They exhaust all efforts in order to succeed! Gamification creates an environment where students set their own goals and then do everything in their power to reach them! 

Key Points about Gamification

Key Point #1: Better Learning Experience

The learner can experience “fun” during the game and still learn if the level of engagement is high. A good gamification strategy combined with high levels of engagement will lead to an increase in recall and retention.

Key Point #2: Better Learning Environment

Gamification provides an effective, informal learning environment, and helps learners practice real life situations and challenges in a safe environment.

Key Point #3: Instant Feedback

Gamification provides instant feedback so that learners know what they know or what they should know as well as how they are doing.

Key Point #4: Prompts Behavioral Change

Points, badges, and leaderboards would surely make learning awesome. However, gamification is about a lot more than just those surface level benefits. Gamification can drive strong behavioral change especially when combined with the scientific principles of repeated retrieval and spaced repetition.

Key Point #5: Can be Applied to Multiple Learning Needs

Gamification can be used to fulfill most learning needs and makes differentiation  meaningful. Students can track their progress along with the teacher and work at their own speed through the games.

Key Point #6: Impacts the “Bottom Line”

Since all of these aspects touch and impact learners (better learning experience, higher recall and retention, catalyzing behavioral change, and so on), it can create a significant performance gain.

Interesting Facts About Gaming

 

  • Over 75% of people are gamers.  This includes video games, computer games, board games, and role-playing games.
  • We spend more than 3 billion hours a week playing some type of game.  This is what we do for fun!
  • The most effective use of gamification happens when students can show their progress, increase engagement, be faced with new challenges, and instill a sense of accomplishment.
  • Games have to be interesting and entertaining in order to achieve the intended learning. Games that focus heavily on learning outcomes have been proven to lose their appeal to students.  
  • Engaging students means understanding and using game mechanics, not just handing out badges and points.
  • Game Mechanics learners enjoy:
    1. Progressing to different levels
    2. Real time feedback
    3. Avatars
    4. Virtual currencies
    5. Activity feed

Examples of Gamification in the Classroom

English/Language Arts: Students earn XP points as they complete quizzes on NewsELA (www.newsELA.com) . Students work in pairs (partnered by Lexile Level) to move up the leaderboard faster than their peers. The class leaders earn special privileges in class.

Math: Students set sail on a cruise to different islands where they learn to master different learning targets at each stop. There are beach-themed games waiting for them as they land, and activities to help them reach their goals. Upon mastery, students receive stamps in their passport books. If they can fill their passport book, they get invited to the ultimate beach party!

Social Studies: Students work in families to learn about Westward Expansion. Instead of grades in class, students earn supplies for their covered wagon. Hopefully they have enough to get them to Oregon (when they take their simulated trip on the Oregon Trail)!

Science: Students try to escape a Zombie Apocalypse and learn about topography along the way. Students need to map their way from Ohio to Florida while doing their best to keep their brains from being eaten! Instead of points for completing assignments, students earn money that they can use to purchase fictional food, weapons, zombie-bite antidotal serum, etc.  Plus, students get to fight zombies in class, that’s just too much fun!

Band/Music Class: As students complete their individual learning goals or practicing requirements, students earn “pieces” of a rock band (i.e. a drummer, a lead guitarist, a singer, etc.). If they complete all of their individual goals, they will have created the ultimate band to compete in a battle of the bands competition.

Elementary: As part of a farming unit, students will earn individual pieces to construct their own 3-D farm! As they meet the learning targets, they will get ‘the roof to their barn,’ or a flock of sheep, or pieces to construct the fence. Bonus items for the barn can be added for students that complete extension activities or show incredible growth in a particular area. Students can also take care of their farm during the game (idea adapted from games like “Farmville.”)

American History: Students pretend to be over-taxed British colonists during the American Revolution. As students earn XP (experience points), they level up while experiencing the shift towards an anti-British sentiment. (See PDF with details)

revolution-game-example

 

Ask Yourself…

  • What would happen if students earned money, XP, minutes, supplies, weapons, tools, food, or privileges instead of grades?
  • Can I incorporate a location other than my classroom for this lesson or game?
  • How can I get my students moving?
  • Can this lesson have theme music?
  • How can I use music throughout this lesson or game?
  • Can I dress up like a particular character for this lesson or game?
  • Can my students dress up or use props for this particular lesson or game?
  • How can I set up or decorate my classroom to build curiosity and excitement for this lesson or game?
  • Am I bored? Well.. then imagine how my students feel…

Game Mechanics

How do you keep your students motivated? Introduce Game Mechanics into your classroom!

Fast Feedback: Immediate feedback or response to actions

Encourage users to continue or adjust their activities with onscreen notifications, text messages or emails. Congratulate a user for reaching a goal, encourage the next step to a milestone or promote a new reward.

Transparency: Where everyone stands

Show users exactly where they stand on the metrics that matter to you and to your audience. Individual and team profiles show progress in real-time and historically. Leaderboards show who’s just ahead and who’s behind as well as overall ranking on any number of metrics.

Goals: Short- and long-term goals to achieve

Missions or challenges give users a purpose for interaction, and educate users about what is valued and possible within the experience.

Badges: Evidence of accomplishments

An indicator of accomplishment or mastery of a skill is especially meaningful within a community that understands its value. Often used to identify skills and expertise within a group.

Leveling Up: Status within my community

Levels indicate long-term or sustained achievement. Used to identify status within a community and to unlock new missions, badges, activities, and rewards.

Onboarding: An engaging and compelling way to learn

Video games train you how to play as you play – users learn by doing. Simple missions help new users become engaged immediately as they master basic tasks, rather than being stumped by an unfamiliar interface or a detailed manual.

Competition: How I’m doing compared to others

Raise the stakes for accomplishing a goal by showing users how they compare to others, as individuals or in teams. Encourage competition with time-based, team and individualized leaderboards. Where do I rank? How can I overtake my closest competitor?

Collaboration: Accomplish a goal working with others

Connect users as a team to accomplish larger tasks, to drive competition, and to encourage knowledge sharing. Show team members how they are contributing to the group’s success. No one wants to let down their team members.

Community: A context for achievement

Community gives meaning to goals, badges, competitions, and other mechanics. Sharing participant achievements creates energy in the community by making people aware of what others are doing. They learn about goals, badges, and rewards that they may want to pursue.

Points: Tangible, measurable evidence of my accomplishments

Used to keep score and establish status or accumulated to purchase virtual or real goods. Earn points through activities, sharing, contributing, or by creating something useful to others.

 

Cited: http://www.bunchball.com/gamification/game-mechanics

What are Game Mechanics?

Game mechanics, that mysterious element that causes the game to move and groove but what exactly are game mechanics?  According to the Gamification Wiki at badgeville.com:

Game mechanics are tools, techniques, and widgets that are used as building blocks for gamifying a website or application.  Utilizing them correctly can build a highly motivational user experience around existing website functionality or content.

Game mechanics are the elements that can move a game along, pulling players in to become engaged in an exciting, interactive game.  Be advised, the use of game mechanics does not mean that gamification is happening.  Using a leaderboard or badges does not make content gamified. Check back as we work on a database of game mechanics to use in your classroom!