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Gamification in Education: a New Type of Interactive Learning

game elements used online

Ever since the beginning of human history education has served people as a process of gaining knowledge, skills, and habits to improve daily life. Although this process is most commonly done by educators, the modernization of the learning process leads many people to teach themselves.

When traditional learning started to show cracks in its surface, alternative education began to rise. It has been developed as a reaction to a lack of information and a lack of diversity in the traditional methods. This process leads to many informal ways of educating people – homeschooling, summer schooling, self-directed learning, etc.

Since educating yourself is not such an easy thing to do, many consider it more as work rather than a fun way to spend their time. This is where gamification in education steps in.

What is Gamification?New idea realisation

Gamification is the application of game design to places that are non-game related. It can be defined by adding levels, experience, and health points or other game related characteristics.

Technology has taken its toll on the educational scene like never before. Young students, who are born in the digital era, exclusively use technologies in almost every aspect of their lives. This is one of the reasons why current adults and professionals need to adapt in the same way using smartphones, tablets, and the internet itself.

ELearning gamification is a process that integrates game mechanics into the learning process. It is mostly used to motivate people, make the process more fun and enjoyable. The gamification of the learning process uses techniques that game designers use to engage their players and reward for their progress in action.

If you’re not common with the word gamification you might think that it is creating a game and adding education elements but actually it works the other way around.

Why Gamification in Education Should be Used?Children education fairytale

In the age of engagement crisis, there is a huge need for new methods and ways how to embrace not only young but also elder students to continue their life-long learning. Gamification of learning leverages the natural desire of people to socialize, learn, achieve, compete and etc. so the person does not feel like he is working or forcing himself to do actions that do not feel comfortable. Mostly it also uses rewards for progressing or achieving certain levels. But why does it work?

Well, the answer to that is pretty simple but lets separate it to technical and psychological aspects.

The Technical Aspects:

  • Immediate feedback. eLearning gamification allows the student to get immediate feedback on his progress and where does he stand among the other students, making the process faster than it is in traditional methods.
  • Cashing-in on rewards. One of the cornerstones of gamification in education is rewards, and getting free stuff always good no matter whether it is super useful or not, but getting rewards for passing certain courses or learning new things leads students to be more productive since that can impact their real-life and improve their learning process even more. Also, when the student knows that he is going to be rewarded for doing a task, he pays much more details to the study material that is being given to him, unlike the book that he is not even interested in.
  • The progress is way more enjoyable. This is where graphics and the whole design of the platform stand in. It is known that visuals and sounds can affect our productivity and brain work, but let’s face it, it is a lot more interesting to watch or read content that interacts with us.
  • Collaboration. Gamification in education not only allows students to compete against each other but also collaborate with friends and to share knowledge among them.
  • Progress bars let us know where we are and where we are heading. No one likes to feel lost, that is why it is important to have a map which shows how much work you have to do until you reach the finish line.

On the other hand, looking from the psychological side there are also more than enough reasons to prove that gamification actually works.

The Psychological Aspects:

  • First of all, it gives you full control of your actions. Many psychological studies found that being forced or dragged to do something leads to the downfall of motivation when it becomes second to none. When a student is in a driving seat he feels like in control of his destiny which is highly appreciated by many.
  • Gamification in education reinforces good behavior. One of the best examples – Facebook. Doing a good job? Here, have a like or a share or, in this situation, have a reward. If you complete the whole course claim your free certificate.
  • Sense of achievement. Everything that we do, we do to achieve something. It is a very strong psychological driving factor for a person to have a sense of achievement.
  • Gamification triggers a dopamine rush. It is known that games, whereby a person receives positive feedback on his work or win something, can activate brain circuit inducing and releasing dopamine which is known to take a major part of the motivational component in reward-motivated behavior and can sometimes lead to causing addiction that makes you come back to the habit every day expecting better results than before.

It is clear that there are many reasons why the process of gamification in education should be used. If done correctly, it can embrace powerful human emotions and generates a positive experience of learning.

What Elements Does eLearning Gamification Use?Game elements used in profile

Subtly placed in different parts of the gamified learning process gamification elements can bring a lot of diversity while learning. Most commonly used materials are:

  • Progress bars. As mentioned above it is important for users to see how much progress they have made and how much it is left.
  • Levels. Arguably this is the most popular game element there is. It is a good way of showing to others and yourself how far you have come.
  • Badges. These are important to the user to make him feel like he accomplished something. Badges are mostly used like ribbons for the levels you have passed.
  • Avatars. To have a feeling of ownership it is crucial to customize your profile the way you want so you could feel attached to the thing you are working on.
  • Daily challenges and quests. To increase the priority of coming back to the activity you are working on daily bonuses are used to reward the user for staying consistent.
  • Virtual currency and goods. It is essential for a platform to have its own currency that could be used to award the users and let them receive virtual goods for it.

Gamification of Learning Helps the Brain to Memorize Everything Better

Even though the human brain is probably the most advanced among all living species on the Earth it is still not capable of storing all the information we get through-out our studying process. On many occasions, we learn something and forget it the next day making the gathering of information pretty much useless. The new data in our brain is lost if it is not stored in the long-term memory through a multi-layer process of preparation, attention, selection, organization, and integration of gathered information that can be easily impacted by gamification in education.

The brain can gather new information through hearing or seeing things, and if it is the combination of both of them, then it is a lot easier to memorize it and place it in the long term memory bank.

Although the digital revolution through-out the years improved our reaction time and abilities to do multiple tasks at the same time, it decreased our attention span, this is why there is a huge need for new and effective ways.

The Eight Core Drives of GamificationEight core drivers of octalysis

Some of the most effective ways to engage the user have been discovered by the founder of the “Octalysis” framework Yu-Kai Chou who developed a human-centric gamification design that lays out eight core drives of human motivation. He believes that by applying these core drives it is possible to motivate the user to complete a task efficiently through an interactive experience. Octalysis framework suggests using gamification in education, fitness, healthcare, and product design to increase user engagement.

The Eight Core Drives:

  1. Epic meaning and calling. This core drive is known as doing a task that is greater than yourself or that the person has been “chosen” to do a task specifically. This core driver can be perfectly described as volunteering when you work without expecting to get paid.
  2. Developing and accomplishment. This is our internal driver to achieve something, to make progress, overcome challenges and develop skills.
  3. Empowerment of creativity and feedback. Users constantly need to have ways of expressing themselves through their creative process and also see the results of their creativity by getting feedback.
  4. Ownership and possession. Building something from a scratch makes you feel solely in control of what you are creating. When a person is in control of something, it drives him to improve what he owns. People believe that something that they own is far more valuable than it actually is.
  5. Social influence and relatedness. This drive is all about social elements that consist of companionship, competitiveness, social acceptance and mentorship. Just like gamification in education connects people that may have similar hobbies or the same goals.
  6. Scarcity and impatience. It can be simply explained by peoples fear of losing something that has a time limit, rare, or exclusive. The fact that the user can not get something right now makes them want it even more.
  7. Unpredictability and curiosity. It drives a person to be constantly engaged because he does not know what is going to happen next. It is basically what makes gambling so addictive.
  8. Loss and avoidance. The last core driver could be described as a fear of missing out on something and that is commonly used in marketing promotions with limited time periods.

Conclusion

Change is good, especially when it is needed. Education process through-out the years never stopped evolving and it definitely does not need to stop now. It is crucial to go hand-in-hand with the new digital era and adapt to our current needs.

Taking into account all the physical and psychological evidence on how gamification in education impacts our learning process it is clear that the change is going in the right direction.

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