Gamification of the Classroom: What is it? How Do I Get Started?


Gamification: What is it?

At a recent brainstorming session for topics related to professional development, one of the topics that was suggested as an option was Gamification. Based on the overwhelming feedback from that session, it is clear that many of our teachers are interested in learning more about this approach to teaching.

So, here is an infographic on the subject that is very helpful in understanding what Gamification is and how it has evolved.

 
Created by Knewton and Column Five Media


What is clear in the infographic is that Gamification is an effective means of connecting to students. As schools continue to adapt to the student-centered learning model, this type of education recognizes the potential for engaging students in a way that is familiar and comfortable to a population of students that have been playing video games longer than they have been in a structured educational environment.


Gamification: How Do I Get Started?

When you begin to understand how Gamification works, you may notice that you may already be implementing some of these strategies, or this type of instruction could be brand new to you. Regardless, if you are interested in creating intentionally designed gamifications of your content, here are some basic ways to do it. 

1. Create a Point System

In many games, the more points you earn, you can earn rewards. Now, this may sound like grading, and in a way, it is. But it can be so much more than that. You can give points for not only assignment completions, but also any behaviors or completions of particular tasks, based on something you want to specifically emphasize in class or several different categories. The most important aspect of implementing something like this is that points must be given based on evidence, not by observation. You know your students. They are able to sense if a system is fair or not. Involve them in the point designation process as well, so that they take ownership in its establishment. After all is said and done, provide a reward (either intrinsic or extrinsic) for students that reach an agreed level of points. The beauty of this type of system is that you can make it as simple or as involved as you want. You could do it with one particular unit, or with all of them. You could even designate a student leader or diverse student group to be in charge of tallying the point totals. You can make it team based or individual. The possibilities are endless!

2.  Tap into Digital Gaming Resources

  There are more and more educational gaming platforms that are designed to help students review for a test, summarize a lesson, and even introduce students to a concept. Here are a few of the top ones currently:

Quiziz

Quiziz is an online game that makes reviewing and learning more engaging through competition with classmates and fun images (memes) when students answer correctly or incorrectly. You can create your own quiz or use one in their library. Once you have your quiz, you just share a code with your students and have them join. Students will have a certain amount of time to answer the question, and the faster they answer, the more points they get. Students are assigned an avatar (funny looking animal) so students can see how well they are doing compared to other classmates to up their game or track their rank in the class. You can also have classes compete against each other and award students who finish in the top 10, or just do it for fun with bragging rights on the line.






Breakout EDU Digital

A fairly recent craze for entertainment is the escape room scenario where you must solve the puzzle to leave the room. This idea has come to the digital space with digital breakout activities. The clues can all be connected to your content and students will compete to finish first. You can even create your own using Google Sites with a pre-made template ready for you to input your content.


Kahoot!

This is a very similar to Quizizz. The features are very similar, but this can also be used to introduce students to new information through a Blind Kahoot!




3. Digital Badges

Badges are small tokens to represent success in certain areas or units of your class. In my experience, handing out a paper certificate or getting actual badges for something is about the least exciting event in the life of a high schooler. But perhaps awarding digital badges may allow students to compete for a grand prize or a learning experience that will be special for that student. 


A way to easily record and track badges digitally is Classbadges, an online platform designed to show students how they have excelled. You can create your own badges or use stock images. Either way, this could be a great way for students to see how much they have achieved and could be a motivator as well.


With these ideas as a starter for your Gamification journey, you will be well on your way to adding another tool to your teaching belt. It's important to remember that balance is the key to any successful instructional technique. I wouldn't recommend making everything you do into a game, but a few instances of this instructional practice combined with other effective strategies will keep your students engaged and on their metaphorical toes.



Sources:
"5 Ways to Gamify Your Classroom." ISTE. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.
"The Gamification of Education Infographic #gamification #edtech." Knewton. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.

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