In the evolution of technology and education, gamification has become a big topic of discussion due to its effect on education. Nowadays, students use technology on a daily basis and many of them have computers or laptops in their classrooms which are free to use. If a school or classroom have easy access to technology, gamification can be used in the learning environment to teach different type of learners at once. Even though, gamification can be a positive teaching strategy it requires lots of knowledge in order to provide the right games, if it is not used appropriately there will not be a positive outcome.
In a classroom there will be different types of learners who will have trouble concentrating and engaging on one teaching strategy. “Education methods currently used are very broad and include academic teaching, practical training, discussion, direct research, and multimedia-based learning” (Lynch, 2017). Since technology is rising there are many teaching methods that include technology on a daily basis including gamification. Students can learn through the use of games which capture their interest, motivates them, and have the liberty to choose how they want to learn. “In the context of education, the trend of using game elements in non-game contexts, termed otherwise gamification, aims at increasing the engagement and motivation of students, capturing their interest to continue learning and influencing their classroom behavior” (Lynch, 2017).
I have a personal example of a history teacher who went above and beyond to teach us using technology. Many can agree history can get a little boring and overwhelming, so Mr. Benavides my history teacher made all the possibilities to create and engaging and motivating environment to learn history. He created a game using electronic flashcards which if answered correctly we would obtain points and the team who had the most points would win a prize. Many of the students in his class were not passing since many complained it was boring, it could be that they just learned differently. By using this game, every student was engaged and motivated to participate and study the notes he would give the class. Mr. Benavides used low-tech to create these flashcards but the fact that it was a game based on history every student learned and raised their grades. Gamification influence positively teaching and learning environments when created correctly by creating an engaging atmosphere where every student can learn.
Gamification and Motivation
Games are fun and engaging to people but when combining gamification and education it creates an amazing stimulation of the brain. “When we participate in the activities that stimulate our bodies or minds, such as exercising, our body releases a hormone known as endorphins. When these endorphins are released, the learners not only have more fun during eLearning process, but they actually retain more information” (Pappas, 2017). These endorphins help students retain and absorb the information that is being presented on a game-based learning environment. “This allows the brain to integrate and organize new information to existing schemas in our long-term memory” (Lynch, 2017). While playing educational games students have the opportunity to absorb information via auditory and visually making it easier for them to recall new information. Gamification in education can enhance brain processing of new information which facilitates memory recall.
Gamification can be applied to any educational setting and teach different types of learners when used correctly. In a classroom there are different types of learners such as visual, auditory, and physical therefore using gamification in learning setting can benefit all of these learners. In a gamification environment student have the option to choose how the want to learn and at what pace. “Research shows that games can both be used to engage students and increase their activity and learning outcomes at diverse academic levels ranging from grade school through high school to college and in diverse fields of learning” (Housand & Housand, 2012). When students learn in a game setting they are motivated by the control and autonomy they have on their education. An important aspect of gamification in education is to determine the characteristics of the learners, this way lessons can be differentiated to meet the needs of every student and their learning styles. “It is essential teachers to establish and take in mind what skills are required by the participants to achieve the objectives – whether the tasks and activities require special skills by learners” (Kiryakova, Angelova, & Yordanova, n.d.).
There are different types of technologies that can be used to enhance gamification in a classroom, for example whiteboards, tablets, laptops or computer. This depends on what electronic devices or technology the school has for a gamification lesson. There are schools who have a variety of game programs for each subject area. In one of the elementary schools I substituted for a third-grade teacher and the students had to visit the computer lab twice a week and did lesson plans on the designed subject area. I had the opportunity to see lessons in a game form for Math and Science. Students had the opportunity to do their work at their own pace and I loved the fact that student were first shown how the strategy was done and then they had the opportunity to practice it.
My children attend a charter school and they implement computer skills in almost every lesson. The school has a special program for students called iLearning Hotspot and AR. In AR, students need to read a book and test on it after they are done reading, this has been around for a couple of years but now it’s more fun to do. AR includes animated pictures and videos of the books that helps the student refresh what they just read, and it is also interactive. iLearning Hotspot includes math and science which have several exercises and lessons that review what the student just covered in class. Even though students are not using gamified lessons all the time they attend this class twice a week for 45 minutes and parents also have access to it at home so students can complete more lessons.
Gamification in learning can have positive outcomes when it is used correctly. A teacher needs to know the student’s characteristics and what type of learner they are to provide the best gamification lesson. Teachers also need to ensure to have all the knowledge and resource for the students when doing this type of lesson. In conclusion, when creating an gamified lesson it is important to ensure that it meets the characteristics of all students and helps them stay motivated and engaged to learn and complete the lessons.