Gamification in Education: Innovation from the 90's On

Gamification in education can be an effective motivational tool for engagement. Some educators spot increases in student engagement while others see skill acquisition benefits. It can also be a tool for enabling teachers to guide and reward their students and in terms of game mechanics, urgent optimism is a powerful force to get the classroom to take action quickly, keeping them on task and highly motivated. Some schools have developed a common core-based language arts curriculum that is entirely based on “World of Warcraft.” Algebraic equations are being solved by the implementation of “Angry Birds” to illustrate parabolic movement and provide students with impetus. Other programs, primarily those that focus on physical education, have even introduced “Dance Dance Revolution” to get the kids moving.

Gamification of Education

This info graph was created by Knewton and Column Five Media and the source of data within the graph: Gamification.org

Where in the world did Carmen Sandiego go? Looking back on gamification during its inception in the 80's, it is hard to believe the advancements in technology. Up until recently, I was under the impression that Sim City was some sort of euphemism and that floppy disc's still existed for the sole purpose of keeping the family wagon afloat on the old Oregon Trail. I was sorely mistaken.

According to the info on this in-depth timeline, the movement peaked in 2002, when games got "serious." Yet it was not until 2010 when gamification started to play a roll in the modern classroom. Mozilla's Open Badge Project and Manhattan's Quest to Learn were one of the few pioneers that integrated gaming into education, bringing an entirely new meaning and standard to educational technology.

Gamification [n]: the use of game design elements in non-game contexts.

This definition may have been appropriate when the word was born, but as it matures and grows, branching out into the business world and pedagogical arena, the definition has room for expansion.

Gamification of Education has so much to offer the next generation, so how do we prove that it has a role and that role is important in modern society?

Gaming is an issue of debate among designers, tech gurus, educators and commentators... but one principle that all skeptics and advocates can agree on is the intention of gaming is to challenge a user (player) with incentives ranging from digital badges to Bronze Trophies to encourage and reward their achievements.

Even now gamification has grown into a movement. For those concerned about students isolating in the gaming world, Youtopia has created a blended learning environment that can be managed by the teacher using a platform structured to meet their own specific goals. Youtopia is a classroom management tool that is geared towards encouraging students to get out and participate in the world.

Service learning is becoming part of the core curriculum, seeing as it is essential to serve and volunteer to learn more about society and become involved in the community. Youtopia also works on the level of assigning, reporting and rewarding students for their achievements. Rewards can vary from physical and material to digital badging-- a rising trend that has shown positive results in education.

As IBM Champion and Bunchball CEO Rajat Paharia points out: "More of our work is happening online, which leads to the creation of activity data. This data can be used to motivate people motivate people through offering rewards for the kind of behavior that meets your business objective."

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Tags: education, gamification, youtopia

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