Most people aren’t even aware of the ways gamification has snuck into their lives, but anyone who wears a step tracker or uses a rewards card at a store is participating. Even my car has a gamified element – when I accelerate, it tells me whether I’m using the battery or fuel. Inserting game elements in non-game contexts brings an element of competition and fun that leads to increased motivation and participation.
Gamification is reaching popularity in education at all levels because most students respond strongly and positively to it. Students often feel a stronger connection to their classmates if they’re part of a team working toward a goal together. People often get very excited to overcome a gaming challenge.
A few common game elements that are really easy to integrate in a course are:
- Rewards: Leaderboards, points, and badges are easy ways to integrate a gaming element into your course. As always, think about your learning objectives for your lesson or course. If the object is for students to think critically about the subject, award points to students who express critical thinking in a class discussion.
- Themes: There are great examples of instructors who have applied themes to their entire courses. I’ve heard of courses centered around the themes of a zombie apocalypse, Survivor, and judo that have had a huge impact on student participation. Immersive experiences stimulate students’ imaginations and help them feel they are part of the larger group.
- Avatars or Identities: When I was in Spanish class in high school, we got to choose our own names. I loved being “Josefina” when I walked into that class – she was fearless about speaking Spanish and didn’t mind making mistakes. Allowing students to choose an identity adds elements of fun, choice, and role-playing. Avatars and new identities give students the chance to create a new experience for themselves that they might not otherwise embrace.
If you’re looking for a way to add a little more vim to your course, try one of these implementations. If you need help developing a plan or coming up with an idea, please contact us at Faculty Support Services – we are always happy to have a consultation.