Imagine that if instead of “writing an assignment”, your task was to “slay the dragon”; or instead of “studying for an exam”, your mission was to “save the galaxy”. Sounds more fun, right?
“Fun” is the byword when it comes to the topic of gamification: the inclusion of game elements and design principles in non-game contexts. Gamification is used to drive engagement and make the mundane more exciting. This is a handy trick in the realm of education.
Using games to engage learners has always been a potent tool in a teacher’s arsenal. Dividing a classroom into teams and asking them to accomplish a task is a quick way to get learners to apply their knowledge… especially if there’s a reward on the line!
But what do we mean by “game elements”?
Game elements used in digital learning can include awarding points for meeting objectives; “levelling up” as a way of tracking progression; handing out “achievement badges” instead of numerical or alphabetical grades; and creating problems with more than one solution; among others.
And gamification isn’t just useful for keeping kids focused and engaged, it is useful across the entire continuum of lifelong learning. Talent LMS’s Gamification at work survey in 2018 showed that employees feel that gamification makes them more productive (87%), more engaged (84%) and happier (82%) at work.
Here are five benefits associated with the gamification of learning.
1. Aids cognitive development in youths
Games that invite critical thinking and problem-solving can improve students’ processing and information retention abilities, according to a 2013 study by Blumberg & Fisch. These “brain games”, as they are sometimes called, are produced specifically to enhance cognitive development among youngsters. They can take the form of quizzes or interactive adventures and can improve the rate at which the brain processes and retains information.
2. Creates an addiction to learning and increases motivation
Unlocking achievements and badges through gamification can result in a natural “high”. Our brain rewards us by releasing dopamine into our bodies, so when we are winning we feel great. Learning new things can be a rewarding experience that releases these happy chemicals, which, rather fortuitously, aid in the retention of information, creating a feedback loop of increased learning, engagement and motivation.
3. Real-time feedback
With gamification, learners are fully aware of the progress of their learning journeys and are able to orient themselves, whether it’s through a progress bar onscreen or knowing how many levels are yet to be completed. Learners don’t have the same clarity while on a learning journey when they can’t see what’s ahead of them. This real-time feedback makes learning visible and allows learners the opportunity to review their progress at any time as they know exactly what they need to do better in order to proceed.
4. Collaboration and competition
Learners can work towards group goals by cooperating with a team. This encourages the sharing of ideas, debate, critical thinking and strategic thought processes. Learners can be encouraged to share their wisdom with their peers by offering rewards for interaction – the conversations will soon be flowing. On the other hand, a bit of healthy competition can keep learners on their toes. Gamification provides opportunities for competition through rankings, rewards and leader boards. Learners who can compare their progress to others will be more driven to succeed, driving motivation.
5. Real-world applications
Gamified learning isn’t frivolous: it can be used to demonstrate the real-world use of subject matter. Particularly while learning on the job, gamification can be a very effective way of cementing skills by applying them to practical scenarios. Workers are able to get a first-hand look at how their choices within the game result in rewards or consequences. This prevents learning from taking place in a void – the practicality of the information is immediately at hand!
Gamification unlocks the imagination and learners’ ability to apply critical thinking. It also increases engagement, awareness, and productivity, making it a powerful tool in reaching learning goals.
Looking to inject some game elements into your programs? – talk to us and see how our Learning Experience Designers can help shape these solutions!