Gamification in learning is the act of using games to enhance a learning experience.
While the word “gamification” is a relative newcomer to our vocabulary, the concept of using games as a part of the learning experience goes far back into history. Skipping rhymes that taught us numbers, hand clapping games that taught us patterns and table games such as Life and Monopoly are all examples of gamification in learning. However, when gamification is combined with electronic means of learning, we take the concept to a whole new – and higher – level.
Examples of gamification in learning
One of the prime examples of gamification in learning is seen in the popular website Lumosity. Lumosity boasts “brain training” that “just feels like games”. The idea behind Lumosity is that, by playing specific games, you can increase your cognitive abilities. These games are designed to increase memory, attention, processing speed and problem solving.
Although studies have produced mixed results as to whether or not Lumosity’s program lives up to its advertised potential, it is impossible to deny the enjoyment Lumosity learners get from this form of educational entertainment, and many people have gone on record to say that they see and feel a difference after the routine use of their games.
Gamification in learning is also being applied in more specific e-learning environments. Companies like India’s EI Design include gamification in their eLearning courses. “We craft the gamification approach by carefully weighing the elements that are worth incorporating. We may blend multiple aspects in the learning strategy to bring in the required engagement. For instance, we may work on a theme (contextual to content and relevant to learner) and weave gaming elements in line checks and assessment,” explains Asha Pandey, who founded EI Design.
EI Design’s approach is novel in that it does not look to gamification in learning solely as the mechanism for learning. Depending on the course material in question, video tutorials, case scenarios or other learning strategies may be more appropriate, but gamification in the assessment period works to round out the entire user experience. The EI Design strategy positions the learning games in a strategic way; where they will be most effective during the course.
How effective is the gamification technique?
According to teachthought.com, gamification does not have to be elaborate or complicated to be effective. It merely needs to be deployed when most effective to encourage a specific behavior. The article cites behavior encouragement, increased visibility of minor actions, promotion of competition and progress tracking as optimal times to deploy gamification in learning.
Is this progressive way of learning here to stay?
So what is the future of gamification in learning? Some neuroscientists believe the positive chemical feedback produced in the brain by the games as the learner “achieves” points or other tangible rewards greatly enhances the learning experience, making gamification in learning a worthy contender among learning strategies. One consulting firm estimates that “50 per cent of corporate innovation will be gamifed by 2015” while another hails it as “a top trend”.
It’s no wonder why gamification in learning is now at the forefront of our consciousness. We have more accesses to gamification than ever before. Learning games have jumped from the classroom to our plethora of devices. Computers, smartphones and tablets mean learning – and gaming – can take place anywhere from the commute home on the train to the long lineup at the bank. This means everything from e-courses to quick brain games can take place where and when the user decides; and with the visuals, videos and audio available in our mobile devices, most learners find any excuse possible to whip out a device and play some games.
Gamification in learning, while not a new concept, has become revolutionized thanks to today’s technology. When used by learning designers to engage students, gamification takes an ordinary lesson to a fun, interactive, gaming experience. If you find the traditional methods of reading and making notes to be ineffective, look to learning providers that include gamification in their methodology. You may be pleasantly surprised at how fun and creative learning can be.
This article was written by Eliana Sarsforst Zulsberg, a learning consultant specializing in topics related to gamification in e-learning.