How to Beat the Game- Motivation in Education

boy walking with carrot dangling from a stick via a hat contraptionMotivating students to achieve, learn, retain.  It’s what instructors and instructional designers want.  The question continues to be how to do it best, your newest buzz word- what’s “best practice”?  Gamification is another buzz word being throw around in various sectors from corporate business to education, with claims to increase interaction, sales or engagement by supposed triple number percentages.  Gamification is the process of applying game elements to ordinary activities to affect a desired change. A best practice, possibly. Get ready for a news flash: education is already gamified.

But, Education Is (Poorly) Gamified

Is education is already gamified? Some say yes it is, yet poorly. We say poorly because students aren’t effectively engaged and compete poorly on a global scale.  Let’s address some game design elements currently used in education:

  • Course objectives are goals for attainment.
  • Students earn points for completing tasks (assignments=quests).
  • Students collaborate in groups (guilds).
  • Students get feedback through grades.
  • Students level up based on points, moving from C-> B -> A. Students level up through grade years as well.
  • Grades K-12 have honor rolls while universities have the Dean’s List in the way of leader boards.
  • The ultimate badge/certification is a diploma.

The imperative is to address these game elements, as well as others, in order to make them more effective towards the course objectives. Game design is everywhere, as Elizabeth Sampat argues.  Gamification is one tool for learning in education, not a solution or magic formula.  It depends on the design, the mechanics.  Good Design = Good Gaming.

Get Practice in Game Design

Before you begin to apply game elements to your lessons, you may want to get into the “trenches” first. Playing well-designed games is a great way to start to get experience in gamification and game design.  Find games that have a “stickiness” factor- the addictive qualities or that desire to make you want to keep playing.  Ask yourself why you keep playing?  What makes you think about the game when you are not playing? What game elements are used and what continues to motivate you?  What frustrates you, though not enough to make you want to give up? These are the elements you should captivate and employ to increase collaboration and engagement in your courses.

Check out 16 principles of good game design by James Gee for more details how to apply game elements to education.  My favorite is “pleasantly frustrated,” whereas I continue for the past 249+ days to try to beat level 147 in Candy Crush with the sound turned off (because it is annoying), without contributing any money to it’s company, King.

Examples of Applying Game Elements to Education


Applying game elements to education is especially effective when you teach the players how to build their own game.  This Edutopia article describes how students create their own boss level assignment to overcome. The phrase “boss level” refers to the culminating challenge in a video game where players use all the skills they have to solve the problem. Students apply what they have learned during the semester to create a challenging task, a Rube Goldberg machine (a machine designed to accomplish a simple task in a complex way, usually through chain reaction)- transitioning the learner to leader.  This approach provides prime opportunity for a student-centered learning environment.


Professor Lampe from University of Michigan teaching informatics shares how he gamified his class lectures here through- *gasp* a video. Prof. Lampe has received testimonies from his former students noting they have a better recollection of the class experience and the course content compared to others classes.  Study is still ongoing to quantify the result of the gamification of his course.


Steven Johnson from Temple University introduced The Quest to his MIS3538 Social Media Innovation course.  He used self-paced learning and self-selected activities that progressively got more difficulty providing feedback through points, badges, ranking through a leader board and recognition for leveling up.  Read more about it.

Hopefully this has your brain gears churning away of how to apply gamification principles to engage students.  Don’t forget to leave us a comment especially if you think Candy Crush’s music is weird or if you have used gamification in your course. Until next time, keep on gaming!


Posted on November 20, 2013, in Gamification and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 66 Comments.

  1. Would you say that gamifiying a course gives the students the ability to put their thoughts into action as well as their knowledge, more so than if they use hands on experience?? Would you agree with the article when it says that Mr. Lampes class was more prepared because of the gamification he used with his class???

    • Rosme, thank you for your questions. I think that students were more prepared for class because they had active parts to play requiring personal involvement which made them engaged. They retained material more because they were invested and active with course materials. That is nothing new, of course.

      Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.
      Benjamin Franklin

      • I definitely agree with being physically involved increases the material that is retained, for example I am a person who when I write the things down it helps me memorize things, on the other hand my sister learns by physically doing things so I do agree with what you are stating above that “They retain material more because they were invested and active with course materials”.

        Question: How would you include gamification in an effective way for those students who learn quicker by writting things down or hearing things over and over instead of by visualizing and interacting in gaming?

      • Rosme,
        Gamification is what you make of it- design is important. If you a student learns better through hearing things multiple times- include videos as part of the game. Different game elements achieve different objectives. Students can watch videos to gain informational content, take an assessment while points earned progress them or their team towards a new level or new module. Gamify courses do not necessary need to be a graphic interface with elves, dwarves etc.

      • In the future when I have my own class I would definitely remember these different forms of gamificatiuon and utilize them wisely and efficiently. In my opinion these forms of gamification may make the class more interesting for the students and therefore their academic achievement will increase as well as their attention in class. Well it was a pleasure to chat with you and I will take our conversation into consideration when planning my lessons in the future. Thanks!

  2. (I apologize in advance for long reply. I’m long-winded when I’m passionate^^::)

    We discussed this same concept in one of my technology college course classes and for me the current way a class is set up is like a game, but that few really want to play, and the key is that hands on experience mentioned in the above article.

    I want to mention first how I first agree with this view. Recently, I got into playing D&D (Dungeons and Dragons)–for those of you who aren’t familiar it is a type of table top fantasy role-playing game. I mention this because a lot of the structure of the game reminds me of how the classroom is set up: You have your teacher that’s the DM (Dungeon Master) who sets up the rules, your player’s handbook in the form of a class syllabus that tells you ahead of time what to do or expect, and the ultimate battle that tests all previous training is the same as a student who’s homework and studying has prepared him/her for their final test of the year.

    It’s very similar.
    So how does this translate to students ability to put their thoughts into action as well as their knowledge?
    This method works not because “Well kids love playing any game”, rather it works because of HOW the game is set up for players to interact and grow within the game.
    I’ll refer to a book I’m reading called ‘Of Dice and Men’ by David M. Ewalt where the author compares playing D&D to playing Monopoly. In Monopoly there is a:
    1. Strict way of doing things,
    2. A roll of the dice has more power than your choice
    3. The object of the game is to be #1.

    In D&D there is a:
    1. Continual building and growing with your character
    2. Consequence to the choice you make and a roll of the dice is made only after your choice
    3. The object of the game is to work together with a team to accomplish a big goal and at
    times the goal is what you make of it–so whatever winning is to you.

    In all this long explanation I want to come down to that student’s are being taught Monopoly style, much like the “Poorly Gamified” comment mentioned above. That there’s only one strict way of “winning” and that there is little to nothing they can actually do about it but hope that the role of the dice gives them some good numbers one day. It just can’t be done like this anymore! As teachers we have to start teaching our students to take up some action and learn whatever they can to defeat those monsters the best way they can.
    Like Mr. Lampe, he did the classic GM move of giving his class (“campaign party”) a different way to prepare for what lay ahead. It trained and prepared them in the way that
    they understood and so it was a success.

    • Maru, What a wonderful comment- thank you for sharing your ideas. You’re so right about students requiring a sense of agency- ie the sense of feeling in control of their own choices. When I think about students beating monsters any way they can, I always think to the no-win scenario in Star Trek (that James T. Kirk beat by cheating). Sometimes though, it’s not beating the game but how you played it.

      Also we have to keep in mind that not only kids play games. The average age of a game player is 30 years, and that average number is sure to rise with the proliferation of game apps:

      • I totally agree with what your saying (and can’t help but love the Star Trek reference too!). To bounce off what your saying, the key idea really is for teachers to motivate their students to do their best–and not instigating Mr. Kirk’s example by putting them in an atmosphere that they feel the need to cheat or believe that it’s a justifiable option to do so. I mean gamers will be gamers and there’s always going to be that one person in the corner that feels the necessity to possess a cheat sheet, but it doesn’t justify it. It’s not about the high score, it’s totally about the progress. I mean, if Bilbo just stayed in the Shire or Gandalf zapped away every problem with magic, there would be no grand character growth/ grand adventure or amazing demolishing of Smaug, the books would have been much much shorter, and maybe Peter Jackson wouldn’t have been as rich—BUT mostly the part about the character growth and grand adventure!! XD

        On side note: I had no idea that was the average age of gamers! That’s really interesting I’m glad to see that people hold their gaming flags high, because the stigma
        is that “Oh, you’ll outgrow that.” Which is really discouraging. Games have this overall stigma of being a ‘luxury item’, because of high prices and time spent playing them. By the end of it, it’s the combination of the player and design of the game.

    • Wow, Maru! You left a great comment. I would have to say that I really agree with what you have said.

      In education we have come to see that everything is very strict, and in a sense, ‘by the book’. Students are losing the creative role in which they once had within their own education. In my personal opinion, this sounds very similar as to what you have mentioned about Monopoly vs Dungeons and Dragons.

      Too many teachers nowadays seem to be in support of this Monopoly style of education in relevance to the board game. On the other hand, I am not convinced that teachers are wanting to take part in this form of learning, but they are often forced due to the Common Core.

      Based on gamification, teachers will be able to follow the same form of the Common Core as they introduce a form of learning that students of all ages will love! It should not always be about receiving a perfect score, it should be about the journey and how you have progressed based on your previous actions.

      As the article states, “Gamification is one tool for learning in education, not a solution or magic formula.” Through this tool, I believe that students will become more involved within their education, thus leading towards greater outcomes in gaining knowledge and ‘points’.

      • Yeah that’s really great insight, Anthony 😀
        I never thought about the Common Core being a source for all the strictness–you’re right! I mean when [as teachers] you’re given such specific guidelines and rules it makes sense that it’s difficult to apply flexibility for your students to learn and grow within the curriculum 🙂
        and I also agree that gamification can be used as a tool, rather than an absolute solution. As teachers we gotta definitely open ourselves to what we can do to help students the best way we can so they can ultimately learn and benefit in the long run.^^

  3. I agree that playing games in class as a form of learning is probably the best meathod in todays technologically based society! kids are more involved in playing video games or watching videos to learn. i am a visual and active learner i would rather play games or do projects physically than just verbally.

    • I agree with your response, especially for active, visual learning students. We do have to take into consideration though that not all students are visual or active learners, which means we have to find other effective approaches that could be used with all type of students,

  4. Scarlett Ramirez

    I agree with Maru! We had a discussion about this topic in class. The idea of gamifiying education, or making it better, since we already have gamification in education, is important because it’s what our students need. It is part of what influences and drives present and future generations. Gamifiying education should mean making students excited to learn, making learning a fun challenge for them, and making it more centered on team work. Team work is important because each student learns to be responsible for successfully cooperating with other team mates. Each team mate will develop an interested in their team mates welfare, as it will benefit the group as a whole. So I believe that games in which there is not just one winner, but more chances for success ,and inclusion, is a much more positive way to go about gamification.

    • I see your point. Yet, I’m still not convinced. The problem for me is that all I think about when it comes to gamification is incentives. Are they really learning because they want to or because they want a reward at the end? are they looking to improve themselves and achieve greatness through their knowledge or just increase their reputation? We claim that this is the way things must be because humans work best if there is a reward at the end, because we’re “conditional workers”. I say the only reason that idea exist is because we’ve already molded past generations to think that way and now the mold is solid and hard to crack. therefore I only see gamification as increasing this mentality that we work not to better ourselves but our ego and hence why we need incentives. I’d like to believe, for the better of society, that that is not true.

      • Jessica, thank you for your comment. Gamification addresses the psychological concept of motivation. Do we need virtual badges to get us off our butts and finish that paper and do it well- no. However in this example, a badge provides an additional form of feedback in which we can take pride in achieving. It feels nice to achieve. Different forms of feedback at different intervals- some known, some a surprise motivate (psychologically speaking). It’s not that we need these things to do better, it is just nicer when we have them. It’s a tool that can help, and it shouldn’t be used in every circumstance. Good luck in your studies!

      • I understand and I guess if it’s not the only source of motivation then it wouldn’t hurt introducing it into your classroom. You’re right, it does feel better when your good work gets acknowledge. thanks!

  5. I agree with using games in classes and a point system but i want to put a con up here. Could games still be tailored effectively to any subject? An example being Art or Art History. How could gamification be used in such a way to bring order to an otherwise subjective topic that depends on a persons view point and not necessarily the content or in some cases how it was done but the end result.

    • Jaime,
      Most anything can be gamified and done well. Personally I think that Art History would be easier to gamify than a general “art” course, as Art History contains mostly factual information. However, you can gamify subjective items as well. Make them assignments. Graded assignments are feedback. Points progress you towards a higher level. Competition can be introduced via a leaderboard. Items can be adaptively released so new content is not made available until certain assignments are viewed. Progression can be tracked via a course map. Those are just a few ideas and I hope they help.

  6. Jamie, I think using a point system for grading like we discussed in class would help solve the subjective portion of reviewing a student’s work completed through gamification. As long as certain criteria are met, you earn points, the rest is a matter of opinion.

    I too agree that any subject can be gamified if done thoughtfully and with some creativity and yes education is already gamified if you take into account the reading and math computer ‘games’ that students currently use in class. Having said that, much work needs to be done in this area, the graphics are very basic and the programs I’ve seen through my field experience work is still very similar to a lecture style delivery or a quiz. Other games I’ve seen are board games, which are more engaging for the students, however, are only used with the gifted program and not the remedial class I also observe.

  7. I’m not completely convinced with this idea of gamification. Right here you’ve provided a list containing examples of already present game design elements in education. Going from that and given that classrooms have been around for far longer time then video games, wouldn’t you say games have then been influenced by these education trademarks? There’s this big movement on the rise regarding bringing gaming elements into a classroom in order to make learning “easier” for our students. I simply don’t agree to a totality that the purpose of it all is to advance our education system. I actually think by bringing more game design elements into a classroom we’re making our students lazier and less independent. How? well let’s take a quick look to years before. Many have gone before us, gone to school without all this technology and abundant presence of games. I would say those students although had an increase in difficulty level, also had an increase in knowledge. They did not need the added motivation of an extra game point in order to get the work done. I’m not stuck in prehistoric times and by no means want to stop the advances of education. I’m simply saying that I don’t want to raise a generation of conditional workers.

    • Jessica,
      Actually the act of playing or “play” proceeds classrooms. Children learn through play as infants. Gamification doesn’t make learning “easier” for students- it makes them engaged or invested in the content in a way that lectures do not work for all students.

      • For some reason I just pictured baby animals play fighting before they are ready to go forth and hunt.

      • I can see your point better now. its clear that infants learn through play and exploring. That’s what i would like, not for it to make it easier for them, but to get them engaged in learning.

    • I would have to politely disagree with your response. Gaming elements within the classroom are by no means supposed to make learning “easier” as you have stated. Gamification was created to provide students with an investment that would actively engage them in something that they are familiar with. If you ask me, this tool will bring about more active children in the classroom as they will be geared towards their likings. Gamification should be seen as a accessory, as a tool, as a function in the learning experience of our students and/or children. As I had added on to an earlier response and as the article states, “Gamification is one tool for learning in education, not a solution or magic formula.”

      I hope you can at least agree with some of what I have stated. Oh, and I am by no means saying that you’re stuck in prehistoric times or that you haven’t had your own experience with video games in education…but times are changing and advancements must be experimented with before conclusions are created.

      Out of curiosity, have you ever really analyzed the educational benefits gained from video gaming? Could be ANY genre of gaming… I mean, there is always something to be learned in basically any experience.

    • I think gamification may make students more dependent on technology, but more independent in the educational setting. (Although not all gamification requires electronics etc.) I think that schools today, at least public ones are in such a bad state that if something like gamification works- we should use it. School needs to be an engaging, stimulating, and safe place where students can learn, and for part of a day, get away from their troubling home life. In a 1st game classroom I have seen that only a few students are intrinsically motivated enough to be perfectly focused and interested without technology and incentives.

  8. I think that gamification in the classroom is a great idea especially for elementary education because it stimulates the kids. At an early age the majority of kids just think about playing games and if we can incorporate that into the classroom and use it as a tool, it will be a great resource and will maintain students more interested and focus on school.

  9. I thought the post was very informative in more ways than one. First off, it challenged me to think beyond the rudimentary classroom framework that is now traditionally implemented in schools. Secondly, it compelled me to think of the reality of the framework.

    I think further pushing the game concept in classrooms is a great way to get students involved in the subjects being taught. Aside from giving them the ability to use the ideas and concepts they had learned in the classroom, it also helps them develop their social skills. The ‘community’ feel given in the Boss Level outlined in the Edutopia article is a perfect example of giving students the chance to rub shoulders with each member of the classroom to further increase a sense of equity among the students.

    Giving students incentives to reach certain goals is also a good tool when applicable, I do not consider it a negative aspect of the gamification process if it is used responsibly. The achievements or goals the students work towards do not always have to be a material thing or the promise of a higher grade. Personal satisfaction can be a motivational tool as well, while still employing the game factor. The success of creatively framing the education process into a game frame work comes from the ability to actively engage the students and motivate them want to excel themselves; not to make them lazy or diminish the value of knowledge. In that respect, the manner in which achievements are addressed depends on the teacher. Which brings me to my second point.

    I think this is a great tool that can be used to challenge students in a real problem solving framework that will aid them in their future endeavors. The reality is that this will only be as successful and empowering as the teacher makes it out to be. Classrooms can be straight to the point, knowledge retention-based or more creative-based involving the students at another level. The effectiveness of either of these methods should not and does not depend on our own preference. What defines a successful and appropriate tool is one which draws out a response and reaction from students giving them a willingness to learn, and a drive to inquire further.

    • I liked your response, I think gamification is a great tool but it all does depend on what’s more effective in your particular classroom. Not all teachers, students or classrooms are the same and so not all approaches have the same effect. Gamification is a great tool though, it’s something that can be tested with and see if it works in your classroom.

      • Scarlett Ramirez

        I agree, I think there is always some element of gaming that we can incorporate into teaching, but it seems to depend a lot on whether or not it is going to be most beneficial to your students, the subject your teaching, or the method you feel best fits.

      • I agree with Scarlett in that weather it would work for a specific area of teaching depends on the teacher and their subject

  10. Reading this was truly inspiring. I am a student now and I am pursuing and education career. I want to be the teacher where all my students enjoy themselves and learn at the same time because that is how I believe students really learn. Of course, textbooks have a lot of information in them but I grew up in the time when technology bloomed and is now used as an educational resource. I noticed you mentioned that there is currently gamification in education but it is used but poorly. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on how that can be changed? Also, types of gamification for the younger crowd of children through elementary school?

  11. After spending all semester in a 1st grade classroom, I saw Gamification providing the students strong and consistent motivation. In today’s classroom culture of ‘teach to the test,’ Gamification seems crucial to keep younger students engaged and interested. These 1st graders are very motivated to read due to the fact that they get to take an Accelerated Reader quiz for every book. While the quiz itself is not gamelike, the program gives the students a badge that builds up with every book they’ve read. The badge is a flower in a pot under the sun. As they read and take quizzes on books, the image becomes colored. They love this so much that every class they beg the teacher to take an AR quiz!
    – Midori G

    • I agree that gamification in any way is very effective for the younger kids because at the age they are in playing mode and when they have a system where they can play and learn at the same time can turn out to be very effective for both the student and the teacher.

      • I think this goes along with the notion of ‘catering to your customers’. The fact is that we as educators are in it to serve. If aspects of ramification serves our younger students, then we should accommodate accordingly to suit the need. If it works for the older students, likewise. As I mentioned before, teachers simply need to go about this responsibly and use aspects of ramification when needed and beneficial to the students, not themselves.

      • For the younger children it is really hard, if not impossible, for them to sit and listen to lecturing all day. I feel so bad for them when their little bodies need to go and play, and they are supposed to sit and be ‘taught to the test’ every day. Is there such a thing as WiiFit with math practice? Schools should have it! 🙂

  12. I plan to work with younger children in the future and gamification maybe my best tool to engage my young students in meaningful classroom education. And when I say young I mean 3-5 year olds. So yes gamilfiy does indeed give them the ability to put thoughts to action because at this age, play is really their only thought. As for the class, of course they were “better” prepared, though I can’t say that means they were “more” prepared.

    • I agree with you that perhaps with how the generations are developing,gaming and technology seem to be the way to get their undivided attention. Fun is definitely a factor in education, for my second grade students things that may seem insignificant to us is so marvelous to them. Therefore, introducing a concept such as this into their curriculum seem adequate

  13. I believe students learn the best when a fun aspect is incorporated. I also believe that education should be gamified more. I grew up when learning evolved from textbook readings to the world of technology and I can say that technology presented in the right way with educational value is 100% the way to go. Personally from taking many college courses i feel more motivated to work up and get more points to a grade versus working down from and A. I am pursuing an education career with elementary school kids. I was wondering if you had any thoughts as to explaining a grade system of working up with younger children and showing the benefits of grading with the manner of working up instead of working down.

    • Do students still earn star stickers (silver and gold) that they can trade in at the end of the week for little prizes or privileges? You start with 0 stars/points. You do things to earn stars/points. Certain number of stars/points are worth different prizes/privileges, or grades.

      • Earning rewards to cash in is called, I believe, a token economy. It is still done, but I have recently learned it is usually used in special education for students with behavioral problems. These kinds of reward systems are probably put in place when students are not able to cultivate sufficient intrinsic motivation.

      • I have to agree with Midori on this one about reward systems–I mean it’s good to maybe start out this way for when students don’t understand the concept of actions and consequence, but it shouldn’t be the solution for everything just because kids won’t know how to do activities that are outside of ‘just getting a reward’. It’s good foundation, but needs to extend to other aspects of learning for the sake of learning too, which in itself is a reward. There needs to be range of situations instead of stagnate “You do this, You get this result every time.” Not saying there shouldn’t be a stable, cohesive system. Just giving students tools to understand things like delayed gratification or finding the silver lining to bad situations. It’s good to cover all bases, I think.

      • When I was in school you didn’t have stars or tickets, if you did well you were “Cream of the Crop”, if you did poorly, “You are going down a rat hole”. You either memorized the work or you didn’t. The reward was, you weren’t punished, you were expected to do your work, end of story. I think I would have been a much more engaged student if there were a point or reward system in place. Many schools use tickets now. Tickets that are given out for good behavior, being on time for your ‘extra’ class, doing well on a test etc… and the tickets can be turned in at the library for prizes. Isn’t that a game of sorts? I’ll tell you what, it works. Because these kids aren’t scared of authority, they aren’t worried about running out of a classroom and six school staff searching the grounds for them. What they do have, is not much, so they’re happy to earn tickets and trade them in for fun things or school supplies. Just having the ticket means something to them, because it means they did well, even if they never trade them in.

        How about reversing the point system too? Start with 100 points and lose points if you don’t meet each criteria of an assignment? That way everyone starts out a winner.

        Games, in any form, are a wonderful way to engage and inspire students, it makes school fun, it makes school interesting and I think it’s a great way to develop thought processes rather than just memorizing.

      • I have substituted for younger age groups and that is not a concept that was used in these classrooms. However I do truly feel these reward systems such as this should still be implemented in classrooms, especially amongst younger students. Seeing what their hard work gets them makes younger students feel like they have achieved something. I plan to use it for my Pre-K class.

  14. WOW I would have never seen a relation between gaming an actually going to school and getting a education. After reading this article I can clearly see what some of the authors of these games were going for, by applying what they learned in school and making the users think and see how playing this game relates to what they are actually learning inside the classroom. Also something that I founds very interested and had never thought about it before was the game design elements that are implementing in order to mimic the education system;Course objectives are goals for attainment, Students earn points for completing tasks (assignments=quests), Students collaborate in groups (guilds), Students get feedback through grades, Students level up based on points, moving from C-> B -> A. Students level up through grade years as well, Grades K-12 have honor rolls while universities have the Dean’s List in the way of leader boards, The ultimate badge/certification is a diploma.
    All of these elements give the users a reason to continue and finish the task, and the same thing goes for going to school and receiving and education. This tool can be another powerful reason of why gaming is not as bad as media makes it seem and how it can also have positive effects to the users.

  15. I agree with Solangel that this is a great tool, one tool. This is just another method of getting information out to students. Why couldn’t one part of your ‘grade’ be traditional, another could be by point system through gamification. Different subjects can be approached in different ways and therefore every student could be engaged in some way. In the end it is up to the teacher to provide the information but as a teacher you must be open to different ways of approaching a lesson, if something doesn’t work, you must look at it from a different angle, take feedback and improve/change your delivery.

    There have been recent studies and reports showing the downside of gaming and of a toddler using a touchscreen device, however, the common thread with these concerns is the amount of time the child spends and what type of activity. Like everything…moderation is key. I let my child use my IPad to sing her ABC’s, play alphabet games etc… but it’s maybe 1/2 an hour total every week, but what she remembers from singing the songs and playing the games is amazing to me and even though I read to her every night, she quotes more from the app’s that we use than the books, note the use of the word ‘we’. We do these things together as much as possible and we play with play dough and we color, her learning is varied and this is an important point, we also walk around the yard and talk about plants, bugs, leaves, rain and the sky. Again, the tools for learning are varied.

    How will you use this inventive approach to education? had it been around in the 80’s I might have paid more attention in school.

    • Sarah I agree with you. the trouble I have seen is that once a new ‘tool’ comes out many teachers are all over it. Not to say it is a bad thing, but I think that is what potentially leads up to them depending on that to solve every problem. Different subject need to be approached in different ways, as you mentioned. One of the issues with that , I think, is that some teachers opt out to do this facilitation because it is time consuming. It may be a valid point, but to what end?

      As far as toddlers using a touch screen- use sparingly. Introduction to education is beneficial, but beware dependance or attachment to it.

      • My friend’s 3 year old learned so much from iPad apps, teaching him to count and learn letters. Before I saw him in action, I probably would have said use ‘sparingly’ too. I do believe that small children must handle 3-D manipulatives daily as well. These little children are going to be growing up largely in a virtual world, and it would be a disservice to omit technology from their early education..

  16. To get back to what Midori said, I do have to agree with her that there should be small rewards here and there but the system of giving constant rewards for small tasks over a long period of time corrupts behavior at the same time as trying to improve it. How do you measure the fine lines between ramifications and behavior modification? Seems to me like this could be a huge debate for some people. Where stand is sort of in the middle. I think there should be a line between gamification in classes but classrooms should still have fun activities wht points going up, but the tasks soon escalate to harder as the lesson forms for a smaller amount of points.

    • I agree, some rewards are a positive motivation. Finding a balance between the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators seem to be tricky territory, especially on a society increasingly dependent on instant gratification.

  17. To Midoris post- it’s absolutely true. I feel gamificstioncan be affective in the class when presented in a way where an educational value is present and the “reward” of the game need more educational work put to them as the class goes.

  18. Yes this post is very smart indeed! the challenge of passing a level shooting people can easily be replaced with shooting numbers or letters, the same way the developers use the their technology, skills, and time to create violent games, it would be considered the SOCIAL REPONSIBILITY of a gaming company to also produce “counter” games to violence and games that influences and promotes more education and learning. This wouldn’t cut into their budgets because there are very few worthy learning games, and so the market is huge around the world. But it is gaining in popularity, just like this website is and its topics!

  19. I agree that playing games in todays classrooms is an excellent form of learning, many people are visual learners and better learn things by seeing things and making it a form of a game. I am a prime example for a visual and hands on learner, I learned English myself by games whether they were computer games or gameboard games but I was able to learn another language due to fun interavtive games. I think that eventually this will be the future of schooling as many kids these days are more and more technologically savvy it will be easier for them to learn and further retain information than the traditional lecture way of teaching. Although we are not all visual learners we also must adapt and incorporate other ideas for learning for young kids that can possibly have other types of learning styles.

  20. Miguel,

    I agree with you about playing agmes in todays classroom as a form of learning. many people are visual learners and it is just so much easier from so children to learn that way. Not only is it better but it is also more fun and entertaining for a student to learn in a form of a game. I think that gamification in the classroom is a great idea especially for students in elementary school because it stimulates their senses and gets the brain thinking . In todays society, alomost every child has either a phone, an xbox, a ps3, etc and it would be great to have these type of electronic tools incorporated into the classroom.

  21. Unlike in education, in games there is no fear of failing. If you fail at a game level the game is not over, there are many chances for you to redo the level until it is passed. In education there is a fear of failing the class but the goal in gamification should be to get to a mindset that trying is what gets us to learn (just like games). Students should have an opportunity to try and fail, without making failure a dead end. If students had the opportunity to take a quiz or redo an assignment more than once, they could learn from their mistakes and lose the fear of “failing”. Like games, students should be more involved heads on to learn their lessons rather than just learning from a book.

  22. I think that gamification in our education system is working but it definitely has room for improvement. It allows for us students to stay motivated enough to earn a good letter grade. However I do think that the system could be improved. There have been many instances where I would understand and know the material but I would stress out because of tests. Sometimes providing ways to substitute test for assignment that require students to apply the knowledge are better than the actual test. For example, in my e-marketing class our professor gave the opportunity to read and research related topics and write post about what we learned. He than asked for us to comment on our classmates work allowing for interaction and a funner learning process.

  23. This is amazing insight! I never would have made the connection between gaming and education – quite the opposite really. When you think of gaming, it is mostly associated with somewhat of a waste of time and parents especially know that their children should be doing homework instead. Such a wonderful idea to combine the two due to the strong similarity in the thought process. Viewing grades as “feedback” is so much more of a positive mindset than what it is usually. Also, viewing the higher the point the higher the level and the advancement to be the best at the “game” is such an interesting way to look at it. Every child learns differently, but I think many will connect with this approach.

  24. This is a great article! As a student, I feel as though the lack of engagement or “forced” engagement in a course makes learning boring, but it seems as though using a gamification structure for teaching would help engage students in really learning the material. I feel like using this style of teaching in the classroom would be beneficial for all the different types of learners because it touches upon using audio, visual, and physical components to learn the material in the course. There needs to be a level of excitement associated with this in a non-cheesey way though in order for students to take it serious. You don’t want to tell a student “this course is set up like a game” because then you’ll get a bunch of eye-rolls from students, but rather let the student come to their own conclusion that it’s like a game so it seems exciting and they want to engage. The key to learning is the motivation, and this is a great way to motivate students by making education fun instead of boring.

  25. I had actually never thought of education as a game until I read this post. I do agree that education may be gamified. Being that education does incorporate the elements of a game: goals, rules, challenges, interactions.
    Just like he article mentions, there are times when I am completely frustrated and annoyed with my courses. However, it is always on my mind. Although there may be times where I don’t want to do an assignment, I always end up doing it because “winning” or getting an A is my goal.

  26. What a great concept! When students are motivated they learned faster,and at the end this environment is very productive for both teacher and student. Kids come to school with overly stimulated senses from long hours of playing video games and cell phone use. It’s normal not to retain knowledge in a classroom where boring lectures are the norm. When my son was a in third grade his Math teacher really struggled to obtain necessary support from the school board in order to implement a different and fun routine in his classroom. I applaud all those teachers who try so hard to make a difference. He has been my son’s favorite teacher, and he learned a lot from him. Gamification, to a certain extent, should be allowed in every classroom.

  27. WOW… Love the post. As a student I can clearly picture how much the classes dynamic would change if your suggestions were to be apply. Nowadays, we are lacking interactivity. All be do is acknowledge how much technology has evolve, yet we don’t take full advantage of what it offers us. For intense this semester I took 5 classes out of which only 2 involve interactive technology as a teaching tool and let me tell you, I got more out of one of those class that the other old fashion/ only book reading classes. I wish your post gets to professor that you implement it in class.

  28. I think the Professors method of teaching was effective given the testimonies of the students. Personally, I know from experience that when learning, it is best to get visual and audio perceptions to retain the material. I definitely agree the current gamification of education is poor. I am more than certain that an upgrade in the gamification of education will be a benefit to society.

  29. I actually didn’t know this existed, I feel in a more general sense of gamification, this is what every creative course or degree needs (also elementary, middle and high school education). As a fashion and creative student, I learn by using my hands and by doing hands-on projects so the idea of gamification does intrigue me. I’m curious to ask is there studies that show this actually works for students? Is this method being promoted so that it gets adopted and accepted as part of the educational system?
    This new way of educating students goes to proof that this generation is definitely more visual and interactive and therefore we need the right tools to learn more proficiently and effectively.

  1. Pingback: How to Beat the Game- Motivation in Education |...

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