There is no doubt that computer games have won over the younger generations. Millions is spent and made every year on games such as Fifa and Call of duty. Which got me thinking, can we use the elements of what makes these games so popular, within our classrooms?
I am obviously not alone in this thought process as over the last 10 years, research trying to incorporate gaming elements within the classroom has grown massively. The use of game elements, or the gamification of learning, has some intriguing possibilities. Gamification has been shown to increase motivation and fun within school lessons. This has led to students completing more work within school and even led to students completing optional assignments.
Is gamification here to stay?
Before I give advice and tips on how to best use game elements within lessons there is a word of caution. Although much research exists supporting the use of gamification within the classroom, there is also evidence to support the opposite. This is mainly due to research being in its infancy stages and as such there is a lot of poorly conducted research.
From a personal perspective I can wholeheartedly approve the use of gamification however, it may not work for everyone. Teaching is a difficult profession and I would never recommend anything that increases a teachers workload. Some advice which I have read on gamification, requires a massive commitment from the teacher which I believe is inappropriate for a new teaching style such as this. I believe gamification has a place within our schools however, like with most new teaching techniques, should be used in moderation and in the appropriate situation.
How can I incorporate gamifiction within my lessons?
Gamification is not an entirely new concept. Things like timed challenges, student leaderboards and a point reward system are all examples of gamification within the classroom. Some of these I am sure you already use. Some teachers go fully gamified by using XP level up systems and badges to demonstrate mastery within a certain area. How deep into gamification you want to go is up to you but here are my personal favourite ways of incorporating gamification within my lessons:
1: Use online applications to give points:
There are many online applications designed to aid teachers in providing gamified lessons. One of my favourite’s being ClassDojo. ClassDojo provides an easy way to award students points for good behaviour or attainment. I particularly like this programme as it is very customisable. I like to award students points throughout the lesson and the student with the most points at the end of the lesson gets a reward. The reward does not need to be large. Often just knowing they were top for that lesson will be enough.
2: Use online applications to start games
My second favourite website to incorporate gamification is Quizlet. Quizlet provides hundreds of revision flashcards which are incorporated in a variety of games. These games include leaderboards which allows the students to see each others scores. Best of all, these games are all free and premade which means all the hardwork has been done for you. Increase your students motivation while reducing the amount of time preparing a lesson. The perfect combination.
3: Allow the students to make their own games:
Lets be honest, our students likely know more about games then we do. So why don’t we let them come up with their own games that they will love. Depending on the age of students being taught you may need to provide some scaffolding however, from experience, the more creative freedom the students have the better the outcome. I have had students making a wide range of games ranging from a monopoly style board game to an interactive video quiz. After the students have made the games and played with a few of them don’t forget to store them somewhere safe so you can bring them out for your classes next year!