Gamification is the use of game mechanics and design to supplement non-game situations by increasing engagement, participation, problem-solving and competition. In this sense, gamifying does not create anything new, it only amplifies the effect of an existing experience by applying the motivational techniques that make games engaging and competitive.
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Gamification vs. Game Based Learning
The difference between gamification and game-based learning is that the latter calls for the learner to make up games that they learn through, or utilize commercially made learning games made for that purpose. Gamification seeks to use the countless hours that gamers involuntarily spend gaming to harness learning in an online course.
Benefits of Gamification in eLearning
Here are the top benefits of adopting gamification:
1. The learner gets a sense of ownership over their learning owing to the interactive nature of gamification.
2. Failure ceases to be an insurmountable obstacle because the learner can try again after a failure.
3. Learning becomes more fun and engaging.
4. Learners can visualize their progress through progress indicators, and this serves as a motivator as well.
5. Learners can uncover an inherent motivation for learning new ideas and concepts through less rigid gamification strategies. There are two forms of motivation:
- Intrinsic motivation: This occurs when a student participates because they enjoy an activity. This is purely voluntary and nor dependent on the expectation of a reward.
- Extrinsic motivation: This involves an external goal that a learner is trying to reach. For example, getting a badge or the most points.
6. Learners are allowed to explore different characters/ avatars, which is at some point a level of self-expression.
7. Elearning gamification provides immediate feedback for learners to plow back and iron out learning challenges.
8. Finally, learners can use the same problem ques of gaming to solve problems outside the online training. Analysis, completion, and working on their craft consistently is a useful life tool, not just an aid for learning.
Disadvantages of Gamification in Education
1. It can be an additional expense when figuring out the costs of creating an online course.
2. For it to be effective, the gamification has to support the existing curriculum. If a course creator fails to do so, this impedes the learning process.
3. Gamification can lead to over stimulation and gaming addiction.
4. Learners might waste a lot of time trying to gain excellent results and feedback from one level before moving on to the next.
5. Learners with lower literacy levels or those still learning English may struggle with the instruction.
6. Finally, other important learning aspects might end up being shelved to allow the budget to cater for gamification.
Ways To Create Gamification Strategies
As with other learning tools, care has to be taken to adopt gamification strategies in a way that aids education at the various levels of study. Here are a few strategies for creating gamification in your elearning:
1. Experience points
Gamification uses level upgrading through the use of XP points (experience points). Each learner starts at zero XP points and each assignment is worth a number of XP points. A learner accumulates more points as they move through the online course.
2. Badge awards for students
Learners can get badges for accomplishments. Depending on the level of study, you can customize these with bonus points, levels, and so on to increase significance and display the perfect level of skill.
Another useful tool is a leaderboard, which basically recognizes the learners doing well, be it in performance, assignment submission learner behavior, amount of logged in time and so on.
Each learner can see their position on the leaderboard, which in turn leads to them wanting to improve their position by studying more, finishing assignments on time, improving daily interaction with the course and so on. All these are actions that will enhance learning.
Elements of Gamification
For gamification to be as effective as it should be in learning, it needs to bring together several different components. These include the following:
1. Integration of video games in the curriculum
Firstly, games allow learners to fail, adjust, persevere and keep trying. A bad grade can demotivate a learner to a point where they accept they are “just bad at something”.
Games, on the other hand, take the pressure off and encourage learners to try and get better at each try.
In addition, games give learners a sense of urgency and the anticipation of instantaneous feedback. This makes learners push harder to do better.
2. Bring on the competition
Secondly, a little competition is great for learning. Conversely, human beings thrive on positive affirmation. Gamifying stirs a little competition and when accompanied by a reward at the end of it (be it a badge, having the learner’s name on the leader board or even being named) can be gratifying and incentive enough to encourage learning.
On the downside, learners that are less competent can feel left out of the competitive learning and withdraw from the process entirely. For this reason, competition should be used sparingly and as an option. Not everyone has to participate out in ‘public'. They can just complete the course privately if they'd rather.
3. Enhance teamwork
Lastly, teamwork can be good. Depending on your online course platform, you may be able to create a team environment by awarding group tasks, with group-based reward systems. That way it becomes a group effort as opposed to independently competing against each other.
Not only does this encourage collaboration, but it also ensures the more competent learners help the weaker ones along.
4. Participation in the decision making
In addition, gamification can give learners a voice and a sense of control over their learning process through voting. They can add their voice to the lessons that helped the most. Having a say in the learning process improves the confidence of learner levels and increases their willingness to participate and learn.
5. Time Pressure
Allotting a task with a timeline attached to it ensures learners focus on one activity at a time in order to complete it in good time. Here, the Parkinson’s Law applies; work expands to fill the time available for its completion. Gamification applies a time pressure which gets learners more excited to complete a task within the given time, or even earlier for bonus points.
Best Practices For Gamification
1. Consider learner needs
For gamification to work effectively, you'll need to consider your learner’s interests, needs and levels. If you place them on a lower level, they'll get bored and lose interest, if the level is too advanced, they may feel discouraged and give up altogether. Your best bet is to start at a comfortable level and gradually escalate.
2. Use exciting language
Something else you can do to get learners raring to go is using different language. You can call their groups ‘leagues’ instead of a team. You can call a mathematical puzzle an ‘’investigation” and so on. This is more useful and effective in lower levels than in higher levels of learning, but it's still worth trying.
3. Innovative rewards
For higher levels of learning, bonus points and gold stars do not mean as much as say opting out of a quiz or getting extra credit. Ensure you align your reward system to things and concepts that your learners find irresistible enough to work harder for.
Gamification should not lose sight of its purpose, which is to help facilitate learning. You still need to have moments of reflection to gauge what's been learned, how it can be applied, and what learners can expect from similar lessons as well.
Remember, gamification only enhances the curriculum. It doesn't replace it in its entirety. Learners should still be able to master their courses on the various levels they are on or higher.