Using Gamification Techniques in the Classroom

Expanding the classroom is going to be our theme this month. What a great way to slide into the New Year, right? Well, one topic that seems red hot right now would have to be the application of gamification theory to the world of education. We saw it first with continuing education, but we didn’t want the traditional classroom to miss out on the fun. There are a few points that you need to keep in mind when you try to bring an advanced topic into a regular classroom. Whether we’re talking secondary education, elementary education or even collegiate level studies, you still have to be aware of your audience.

Do you already have set goals in the classroom? Are you working with a team of teachers? If you’re feeling like a lost island right now, chances are good that you need to amplify your support centers instead of taking on a new technique. But f you’re feeling bold as a solo operator, make sure that you document all of your steps. If administration wants to see what impact this has on the class, they’re going to want to see what steps you really took to make sure that it’s not just entertainment, but a real educational framework.

The best way to get started is to realize what gamification is really about. It’s not just mindless video game entertainment; it’s really about learning. Every single student should be able to take some aspect of the gamification-enhanced course and feel like they got something out of it. Unfortunately, badly done courses only make students feel like you’re wasting their time. Do you want your time wasted? Probably not. That’s why it’s important to look so closely at audience before you just move on.

There should be a very defined process in the two follow areas: winning and moving forward. Note that there is a big difference between the two. People will play a course that has gamification elements as long as they have a sense of actually getting closer to something. Even if they don’t win for a while, they’re still wired to keep going. But if you drag this out too long, then they’ll get frustrated. There needs to be set milestones where they receive a little something for participating.

The way you add gamification elements is going to depend strongly on age and what they can handle. Collegiate students are going to respond to some elements  differently than their primary school counterparts would.

Don’t be afraid to take class feedback as you shape a course. Not all of the feedback is going to be positive, and you’ll need to take that in stride of course. But as long as you’re willing to look through all of your options, be open and respectful and ultimately figure things out over time, your class could get an amazing experience out of your efforts!