The worldwide technological revolution has impacted many facets of global systems in a major way (Aaron 1). Technological innovation has improved the archaic traditional methodology of obtaining results. Speed and productivity have been enhanced thanks to this technological advancement. However, compared to other sectors, the education system has lagged behind in incorporating technology in the learning process (Aaron 1). The education system stands to gain a lot if it incorporates technology in the learning models. The most innovative way to do this is the gamification of the learning process. This paper aims to illustrate gamification, how it operates and why it is necessary to carry out gamification of the learning system. It also explains the elements of gamification. Gamification of learning is vital tool that leads to enhanced student engagement and takes the learning experience to the next level.
Gamification is the use of games, especially on online platforms, for other purposes other than gaming (Roy 1). It is meant to incline the targeted group that uses the games to engage in the desired behaviors. They engage in the desired behaviors as they do something that they enjoy. For instance, gamification of the learning process is a concept that incorporates conventional games with basic learning tools. The students learn alongside doing something fun (Roy 1). Gamification of the learning process takes advantage of the psychological nature of the human being to have the tendency to actively engage in gaming. By doing this, gamification makes learning more engaging to the user and aids in propagating the desired traits in the user e.g. mastery of calculus in mathematics.
The educational characteristics of the games used in learning models are engineered into the games. Therefore, the design structure of the gamification model and its layout are essential to achieve the final desired results. Specific features and elements are built into the conventional games to ensure that the games have relevance to education of the students (Roy 1). These can be said to be the building blocks of the gamification process. For successful gamification of the learning process, these building blocks are vital. These elements are
The first element of the gamification for the learning process is goal orientation (Roy 1). This ensures that students have actual objectives to accomplish during the learning process. The objectives are both long term and short term. These targets are used as a measure of the progress of the student. The completion of one level serves as an intrinsic incentive for the student to strive to complete the next level. The level performance can also be graded. This ensures that the students are not only keen to complete a level but they also strive to the best in each successive level. For instance, the performance of a level can be evaluated in form of stars. Here, the student who completes a level in arithmetic problem solving may be awarded one, two or three stars according to the time used to complete a task. This will encourage the student to repeat the exercise again and again until they post three stars for that particular level. The advantage of this is that it lays out clear and measurable goals for the students and in so doing, it provides internal motivation (Roy 1).
The second element of gamification of the learning process is the provision of feedback (Roy 1). When the students engage in the learning process they try to solve the problems presented and key in the answer. They then receive response on whether the answer entered is accurate or not. If the answer is correct, the response will congratulate the student and allow him or her to move forward to the next level or question (Roy 1). If the answer is not correct, the student may be granted a clue. The student may also be allowed to try the question again or be given an option to a consult a video, text or audio tutorial to enable him or her to answer the question. The benefit of this element is that it facilitates the comprehension of what is learnt in class by providing a way to apply the talent, abilities and skills to solve practical skills (Roy 1).
The third element gamification is benchmarking (Roy 2). This involves earning points through the progress of the game. When the students overcome a challenge presented to them, they earn points that accumulate with each successive level. In addition to this the students also earn medals, badges or trophies. The structure of many games is such that the next level has a higher extent of difficulty than the previous one. Benchmarking in gamification of the learning process benefits the students by boosting their self-esteem (Roy 2). The students are proud of themselves when they successfully overcome a challenge posed to them.
The fourth element of gamification is the attaining of ranks (Roy 2). Conventional and educational games are characterized by posting a comprehensive ranking list or leaderboard that displays the achievement of individual users. The students are ranked by their individual mastery of the respective subject. The ranking list also grades the students according to different types of achievements. For instance, mathematical test may have ranking according to the highest number of problems solved correctly or according to the average speed of solving the problems. The existence of multiple ranking ensures that different students are appreciated in different measures as opposed to having the ranking done by a single criterion only. In addition to this, it helps other students to identify the colleague who they can approach if they require assistance in a certain field.
The fifth element of gamification of the learning process is allowing students to learn different subjects at their own pace (Roy 2). Students are not similarly gifted in terms of intellect and problem solving ability. Gamification of the learning process allows the student to try the problems, acquire the tutorial content, watch and re-watch the videos required, accumulate points and redo assignments at his or her own pace (Roy 1). This solves the limitation of traditional learning model where the teacher has to teach all students through the course at the same pace. This has the benefit that the teacher can concentrate on the students who are experiencing a problem in a concept in the subject without having the others waiting. In addition to this the student can repeat the exercise as many times as he pleases without inconveniencing other students (Roy, 1).
The sixth element of gamification is fun (Aaron 2). The games used in learning elicit the nature of curiosity, resourcefulness, and imagination hence making the learning process fun and enjoyable by incorporating play in basic class lessons. These aspects of gamification are deficient in the traditional textbook way of learning where play is reserved for break time and midterm breaks (Aaron 1). In so doing, the games present a novel learning environment that is highly immersive to the student. For instance the student may solve a complicated calculus problem and at the same time kill zombies or monsters on the way (Aaron 2).
Lastly, gamification also incorporates the element of quality control. It does so by providing avenues for evaluating the level of performance to both the teacher and the student (Roy 2). The students can track their performance which may be displayed in a graphically appealing way e.g. graphs. The teacher can also track the performance of the students behind the scenes. The teacher can evaluate the effectiveness of the learning model by determining the way the student spends time in learning activities (Roy 2). This has the advantage of making the teaching process less tedious to the teacher. It also saves on time spent by the teachers evaluating the students.
Despite the countless benefits associated with gamification of the learning process as described, there are critics to it. Critics postulate that the design of games makes the games addictive (Roy 2). It is of no harm if a teenager spends every night solving complex calculus problems but the parent may become concerned if it becomes a habit that takes most of the time of the child. There are also drawbacks in terms of the subjects that are eligible for gamification. For instance it is easier to make games for mathematics and science subjects than it is to make a game for literature (Aaron 2). However, the solution to these limitations is in the design of the games, just as the critics argue. For instance, gamification experts have come up with the suggestion of making game characters who can say that they are tired depending on the time used by the student when using the model (Aaron 2). To carry out gamification on more complex subjects, a concept known as modular decomposition can also be used. It involves dividing the game into many simple modules making it easier to study the subject in steps.
In conclusion, there are no limits of the gamification of learning. The opportunities and benefits of the virtual gaming world are countless as described. Well-designed games motivate the students to study and research. Therefore there is need to carry out gamification of education in order to reap the benefits associated with it.
Aaron M. Cohen. The Gamification of Education. 2011. Print. The Futurist, 2011
Roy Saunderson. Making Learning Fun. 2011. Print. Training Mag, 2011