While gamification in education is just starting to really gain momentum, technology is available to structure units of work and connect students in and out of the classroom with communities of learners. Teachers are time-poor and the purpose of this page is to provide a framework to introduce dynamic, mechanical and component elements of gamification into a unit of work. Not all units of work will best be suited to gamification (Kapp, 2012), so be selective. Reflecting on the important points listed in each section could help you avoid simply adding trivial elements of gamification to otherwise dull learning activities (Kapp, 2012).
Developing communities of learners with your students will help them connect in and out of the classroom, but as a teacher, there are many opportunities for you to connect with other teachers from around the world (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). As lifelong learners, we hope to learn as much from our students and each other as everyone learns from us (Wells, 2002). Students are diverse, and even though most have grown up in a digital age, collaboratively building knowledge is much more complicated and demanding than connecting socially via technology (Keengwe & Onchwari, 2011). Once you become more comfortable connecting with a community of colleagues, it will be much easier to model this to your students. Easy? NO. Rewarding? YES! There is an abundance of free and easy to use recources to make your site fun and interactive.
Once you have decided on your ultimate objective, identify the skills students will need to develop, and their prior knowledge. Levels in a gamified unit can provide relevant sequencing to facilitate skill building as the difficulty increases within the game (Tobias & Duffy, 2009; Huang & Soman, 2013). This can help make the final objective seem more achievable, while identifying any obstacles within and between each level (Kapp, 2012). Transitioning between levels allows you to recognise student success and identify students having difficulty (Kapp, 2012).
For example, a mathematics class might want to create a survey and collect data to support a hypothesis or research question. The diagram shows how the levels might broken down.
Students having difficulty completing a stage can be easily identified and provided the help they need (Kapp, 2012). Providing feedback is one of the elements of gaming that makes it appealing. Players are given quick feedback if they do a task wrong and have the opportunity to try it again.
Understanding the difference between external, or extrinsic, motivations and intrinsic motivations, where motivation originates within the learner, is critical to gamification (Malone & Lepper, 1987). When a feeling of purpose intrinsically motivates students, they tend to be more aware of the subject matter and give careful attention to the complexities, inconsistencies and unexpected results (Mekler, Brühlmann, Opwis & Tuch, 2013).
These elements help students recognise self-achievement. These can be points, achievement badges, or time restrictions. By making the objective meaningful, students are given both extrinsic and intrinsic rewards (Zapp, 2012).
These are designed to encourage interactive competition or cooperation, by making their progress and achievements public. An example of this is leader boards. Introducing blogs and forums onto your site gives students access to learning outside of the classroom (Zapp, 2012).
Both these examples are a first attempt by teachers to apply principles of gamification with their classes. Both teachers found the experience rewarding, and report they would make changes next time to develop the units to incorporate other elements of gamification.
The first was designed for a year 10 business class that is learning about how companies market products. It was created using Google sites and uses the elements of levels, points, leader boards and collaboration. The task uses project based learning as a meaningful framework to encourage students to invest in the challenges.
The second was designed for a year 6 mathematics class learning about data collection and analysis. It was created using Weebly and uses similar gamification elements to the first. The majority of students at the school are English language learners, and the unit was designed to provide opportunities for students to write about mathematics and reflect on their learning.
Responses from students have been positive in both classes. They have valued the feedback and the ability to attempt tasks multiple times until success is achieved.
Details of sources cited can be found on the References page.