Illustration by Edpuzzle Staff
Think of your favorite board game or video game growing up and why you loved it. Was it the ability to work in teams? Being able to imagine yourself in a fantasy world? Or maybe you just liked winning the most points?
Whatever your reasons are for playing, games are fun! They challenge you and create an immersive experience.
What if we could bring the same level of excitement and engagement into the classroom? We’re here to show you what gamification is, why it works, and how to try it out with your class!
What is gamification?
Careful, don’t mistake gamification for letting your kids play computer games or video games all day. Gamification refers to using game design elements in non-game environments.
Despite the connotation with technology, gamification is adaptable to no-tech and low-tech classroom situations. It also works with all age groups!
You’ve probably already experienced gamification without realizing it (think about all those Starbucks rewards points you’re saving up). That’s why you don’t even have to have played a video game before to understand the basics of gamifying your lessons.
Gamification and education
A common misconception is that gamifying your classroom will make your students ‘smarter.’ Instead what it does is teach basic principles of learning that we emphasize every day to are students.
Problem-based learning - By their nature, games present a challenging problem that you need to solve. Whether it’s a fictional or real-world problem, the player sets off on an adventure in which they learn and practice until they reach the end of their journey.
Freedom to fail - We don’t always get something on the first try! A game allows you to explore multiple paths until you figure out what works. As a result, you feel like you’re in safe space where it’s okay to make mistakes. Plus, you’ll be even more enthusiastic about trying again!
Instant feedback - You can’t reach your end goal in a game without getting a lot of useful feedback. Something as simple as a pop-up message can give you tips for what you need to fix in order to get something right.
Progressive growth - When you play a game, everyone starts at the same level. As you continue on in the game, progress bars or levels show you how much you’re achieving. All in all progress is an upward trend, it doesn’t matter how fast you go because you can only move forward (just like with learning!).
How to start gamifying your class
Like with any new methodology, start small. Instead of thinking about how to gamify your whole class, consider what parts you could take and try out first.
Begin by giving your gamified instruction some context. Try creating a story in which your students encounter problems similar to the ones they are learning in class. It’s much more fun to write a persuasive essay when you think of yourself as a resistance leader wanting to build an army!
Once you have a theme, an easy next step is to rethink the way you grade your assignments. A common method is to establish a point system. Whether you call them coins or 'XP' (experience points), a simple word change will make you students worry less about grades and more about the experience.
Badges are another great tool for recognizing student achievement and motivating students to continue working hard. Remember how excited you were to get your first Edpuzzle badge? Your students will feel the same way!
Students can receive a badge for simply attempting an assignment, completing extra credit, or helping out a classmate. A little bit of recognition can go a long way. Get your creative juices flowing and try designing your own unique badges to personalize the experience for your students.
Once you’re feeling more comfortable with these gamifying practices, you can look into incorporating more elaborate elements like an item shop where students can purchase small rewards like a locker pass or exemption from a homework assignment.
Gamification and edtech
Remember that games are not a stand-alone tool. They are a supplement to learning and produce the best results when other forms of instruction are also taking place.
Use edtech to complement your teaching. Edpuzzle can be integrated into your gamified class as formative assessment or extra credit. You could make and upload your own video dressed up as a character from your game!
Tools like Kahoot are great for building collaboration and keeping up a healthy level of competition in class. Your LMS is a great way to showcase a leaderboard of points and badges.
If you want to dive even deeper into gamification, try our free online certification course. You’ll get a certificate of completion you can share with your school for possible PD credit and a snazzy badge (wink wink) to share on social media!