Gamification in education is relatively a new and emerging concept that is being widely discussed in educational circles. According to Kapp (2012), Gamification as it relates to education can be defined as “using game-based mechanics, aesthetics, and game thinking to engage people, motivate action, promote learning, and solve problems. Wang (2011) further defines it as “a series of design principles, processes and systems used to influence, engage and motivate individuals, groups and communities to drive behaviors and effect desired outcomes.” According to a Gartner Group study, 50% of organizations that manage innovation process will gamify those processes within the next decade (Gartner, 2011). While the aforementioned definitions are derived from the business sector, it is important to note that it is this sector that could potentially influence education, as educators prepare their students for the 21st century workforce. Therefore, it seems that gamification in education is inevitable and as a result, careful study and analysis of this emerging concept should be on the forefront of every educator’s agenda.
Gamification in education has the potential to enhance student engagement more so than a traditional lecture or textbook reading. Students that find one particular subject boring could possibly find it fun if the subject were to be presented in a gaming format. Additionally, gamification has the capability to provide immediate performance feedback and display progress, which could also serve as a motivator.
Gamification in education also has the potential to replace books and traditional brick and mortar type schools/classrooms. Gamification tends to lend itself to distance learning where there is no need for a building or classroom. Gamification and distance learning can conceivable offer computer-based or online instructional material such as textbooks, articles, websites, and other pertinent material, which could eliminate the need for hard-copy textbooks and articles. As a result, libraries would also become extinct, as online databases would provide necessary resources for the gamified learner.
Gamification can also rekindle the practice of collaboration by provide students a broader range of opportunities to collaborate, problem-solve, and network with other students from diverse backgrounds and cultures, yet another 21st century skill that our students need to have.
For years, traditional learning has placed emphasis on the premise that failure is not an option, yet learning from ones mistakes is the primary method of learning in gamification. Failure allows students to revaluate their approaches to problem solving and it also permits them to test their own hypothesis, which in return would result in a positive learning experience.
While the aforementioned benefits of gamification in education have merit and value, it would irresponsible not to consider the possible reverses and potential problems that may surface. The use of gamification in a leaning environment, if used inappropriately could possibly lead to the infantilization of learning. Students would run the risk of believing that if the gamification experience is not fun then learning the material would hold no value. Additionally, the focus would be on the rewards and achievements a student could gain and not on the self-satisfaction of newly acquired knowledge. There would be an increased intrinsic value to learning that simply focuses on a means to an end.
Gamification in education can prove to be a tremendous tool for engaging students; however, if it is poorly implemented and improperly utilized this emerging concept could lose its significance and usefulness. It is vital to gain an understanding of the dangers and stipulation that are required in implementing gamification. While gamification can possibly increase student engagement and achievement, it behooves us as educators to consider our goal in the framework of learning and not in the context of simply adding another trending and emerging technological device or concept.
Gartner, Inc. (2011). Gartner says by 2015, more than 50 percent of organization that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes. Retrieved from http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/1629214
Kapp, K. M. (2012). The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education (p. 11). John Wiley & Sons.
Wang, R. December 2011. Demystifying enterprise gamification for business. Retrieved from https://www.constellationr.com/research/demystifying-enterprise-gamification-business