I have to say, among the many ‘tech in ed’ jargons I have heard in Coetail, ‘gamification’ is one that I have not heard used a lot before reading all those articles. So here’s how I understand gamification in education.
How I understand gamification:
From what I understand from the readings for this week, gamification generally refers to incorporating learning (education) into games, largely computer games/apps. Because ‘games’ themselves don’t always have to be on the computer, gamification can also be referring to ‘gamifying’ an activity that may otherwise be just a classroom activity without the elements of a game. Gamification of education is more prevalent now because of the era we live in. It’s safe to assume that all students now have access to computers and computer games and that most of them are engaged in some sort of online/computer game-like activity. Because of this, teachers are catering to the new generation of students by gamifying learning.
Gamifications in my classroom – on computers:
Using computer software with learning games has been around for awhile. In fact, those are now outdated. But, that’s probably the first ‘gamification’ I have used in the classroom. Years ago, when computers were beginning to make their way into the classroom, we had a computer corner in the classroom, and students played learning games on the computers.
Now, there are many online sources that are free to use. It’s only a matter of choosing the right one for your students. In regards to online games, I have used them for: individual students (mainly, ESL students or students who need extra support); as a learning center activity; class/group game on the interactive whiteboard. I believe these are quite commonly seen in classrooms. I definitely enjoyed using the interactive whiteboard to play online games as it just magnified the whole experience. But, other than that, I can’t say that I used online games as intensely as other learning tools I have used in the classroom. I generally posted links on the classroom blog/class wiki and had students just access them from home or in the classroom.
The one computer game that I did appreciate was one that our school bought for students with dyslexia (unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of it!) The game was specifically designed for students with dyslexia. The game would send me comprehensive reports on which areas the students were improving on and which areas the students needed more work. The game would also tailor the activities accordingly so the students did not spend time on skills that they already had.
It seemed to me that the term ‘gamification’ generally refers to games played on the computer. But the literal definition of gamifying learning is not limited to computer games. Gamification of learning is broader than that and it should be. In my opinion, offline games are often more fun because more can be incoporated into the ‘gaming’ part, such as movement and manipulatives. I personally enjoyed this type of gamification more.
Other than the traditional way of gamifying – such as, creating a baseball game out of a review activity, or creating a game for a unit in social studies for the students to better understand the content – elements of gamifying are used all throughout the day in a classroom. Using a reward system to motivate students to display positive behavior, awarding group points to promote cooperative attitudes, and even public displays of achievements or ‘winners’ are all elements of ‘gamifying’ incorporated into a classroom.
Reflections on gamification and its purpose:
The purpose of gamification is to motivate students. That’s especially true for the gamifications that happen offline with incentives and public displays of rewards and winners. With anything I think the big question always should be, ‘Is it beneficial for learning?’ More specifically, will it benefit my students. That would be my primary concern and objective when employing a new trend into my classroom.
With gamification, I do think that it is beneficial in learning. I think that all students enjoy ‘playing.’ Therefore, gamifying a lesson creates a positive atmosphere and attitude in the classroom. However, I will be mindful of the ‘how’ gamifying is incorporated and if it is effective with the particular content and context. I remember playing a multiplication tag game with my students. It was such a fun game and the students really loved it. The only problem with that in that particular classroom was that, not all students have mastered the multiplication table. From the outset, the game might have been a great way to revise multiplication table, but the nature of this multiplication tag was to be quick in coming up with the answer. Students who were in the process of becoming familiar with the multiplication table benefited from the game. But the students who were at the beginning stage were often discouraged because they would always lose out.
Also, the multiple intelligence comes into play when deciding whether gamifying lessons is a positive addition to the classroom. Gamifying will not be a positive experience for all students, especially students who do not enjoy competition. There are students who prefer to progress at their own pace and are more effective learners when they are not in competition.
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