Gamifying Education

Anyone Who Stops Learning is Old by Keri-Lee Beasley

Anyone who stops learning is old …

I, like most people don’t want to get old.  So if Henry Ford’s quote “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”   is true, then I need to keep learning.

Fortunately, I have some great teachers challenging me to think and rethink ideas.  Some of these teachers are sitting in my classroom every day.  The discussions I have with students educate me in so many areas.  They teach me about the latest technology they are using, the games they are playing, and the thought processes they are evaluating.  They share what motivates and challenges them, what they find interesting, … and what they find BORING!  I have been introduced to books I would never have read and logic questions I would never have pursued by their queries and insights.  Some days it is more than I can take in.  But, it gets better.  While my students teach me so many things, they have now taken their role one fabulous step further …

Students are now doing my homework for me!  Sweet!

After an intriguing discussion with Loren about game design and future career prospects in the gaming industry (obviously for Loren and not for me), I received an email that said:

Dear Ms. Connor,

This might be something you would be able to write about on your blog post, and if not, is still very stimulating brain exercise.

Hope you enjoy it:  http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/gamifying-education

This video intrigued me as it provided some very simple steps to help students be more engaged in learning.  (The fact that a student recommended it also suggests that the concepts are on the right track.)  Next year I am going to try and readjust my homework grading approach in a similar manner to that discussed in the presentation and see what happens.

It makes sense that by gaining points for work done rather than losing them would increase motivation as students work toward specifically identified goals and rewards.  The idea of employing this reward system to encourage students to think, to research, to collaborate, to communicate, to learn and to be independent makes sense.  And considering the time students spend earning rewards in their game scenarios, it might engage some students who have otherwise not been involved.

Rewards from MrTPlus

The idea of having class rewards when certain goals are attained also encourages collaboration as the strong students want to help those that are struggling so they can reach the class goal faster.  And the weaker students cheer on the success of the others.

Loren and I have discussed these ideas at length.  In fact, Loren came back a few weeks later and told me some of the down-sides of gamifying education, comparing it to some of the rewards systems employed by airline and other commercial enterprises.  (I need to talk with him again to share further about this.)

Over the summer I hope to get a plan together for how this might be used in my classroom.  Only by testing it out will I truly see if it is effective.  Having Loren help design this plan to “gamify” parts of my class greatly increases the likelihood of it catching student’s attention as he knows what would motivate him.  He also looks at the implementation from a student perspective.  Loren found this site where R. Spicar shares how he has gamified his courses.  Since finding this, Loren has been working on a plan for me.  If his ideas come to fruition, I will share them with you as I know he is contemplating how to reward true learning and prevent cheating, how to motivate and engage.

To investigate some of these ideas, I hope to use some insights in the following papers:

Gamification of Education

What Games Have to Teach Us About Teaching and Learning:  Game Design as a Model for Course and Curricular Development by Kimon Keramidas

Gamification in Education:  What, How, Why Bother?

Gamifying Homework

I for one can’t wait to see his plan and look forward to learning from him for many years to come.


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One Response to “Gamifying Education”


  • Avatar of Dan Long Comment from Dan Long

    Where were these ideas when I was in school? Seriously…I don’t remember too many times during my elem/middle/high school years where I was motivated to go beyond anything that was taught in the classroom. Interesting post, Nyoli…and I am sure your students are benefiting from your increased knowledge of tech!


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