Gamification is a general term for making a process more engaging, interactive, and rewarding to use. It keeps users engaged with a task for longer and helps them learn faster and more intuitively by breaking large or complex concepts down into fun challenges.
More specifically, this effect is usually achieved by introducing game-like elements to a task. For example, adding additional rules or ways to earn points for a reward or creating a sense of competition between users.
Adding these structures to a task can influence how users approach and prioritize problem-solving and provide more motivation to engage and learn. Depending on the gamification concepts introduced to a task, they can be used to appeal to a wide range of desires, including:
- Mastery of a new skill
- Recognition and status for achievements
Gamification is arguably the most effective use for education. Games use scoring, interaction, and competition to teach players the skills and strategy needed to win. Gamification simply defines ‘winning’ as learning the material being taught.
Furthermore, games are designed to be fun and engaging, keeping students focused on the material. This is particularly true when creating gamified systems for schools, as most kids are already adept at learning through playing games at home, whether through their toys, sports, or games on a parent’s mobile device or computer.
It’s not just for kids, though. Gamification can aid the learning process for individuals developing their skills, corporate training, professional qualifications, and more.
Points and scoring systems can be great motivators for active learning and achievement and behavior and improvement. Giving out stickers and other rewards for good work is nothing new in the classroom and a great example of gamification at work. Digital gamification lets you expand on this concept in a remote class, giving out badges and stickers. Students can customize their profiles or creating an online leaderboard that tracks the latest test and homework scores.
Games can be a hugely valuable way to enable kids with special educational needs to learn independently and communicate, especially with kids for whom it is difficult to communicate verbally.
Games can enable kids to cooperate with others and express themselves through non-verbal, in-game actions to pursue goals. Furthermore, they can develop verbal communication skills by working together to complete tasks they are engaged in.
Depending on the type of game, games can also help kids develop:
- Motor Skills. Games can develop motor skills through activities that require coordination, timing, and navigation, helping kids understand how to interact with the world and manipulate objects physically.
- Organization. Games with tasks focused on categorizing and organizing items or information or pursuing self-appointed goals help kids learn important organization and time management skills. At the same time, not a purpose-built tool for teaching kids; the popular building game Minecraft is an excellent example of this. Kids can decide what they want to do or build, but they’ll have to gather, store and process the things they need to do it. This naturally encourages them to think ahead about using their time in the game and manage their resources to achieve their own goals.
- Reading and Writing. Interactive stories can both test and develop kids’ understanding of words, for example, by letting them influence the story’s direction through the selection of keywords. Instead of simply getting answers on a test wrong, when they don’t understand a word, the story simply takes a new direction that explains its meaning.
- Social Interaction. Games can help kids learn about social situations, relationships, and facial expressions in a safe and controlled environment. For example, kids could engage with an interactive scene and describe what is happening, how the characters might be feeling, and what their faces are showing.
Keeping a class fun and interactive can be a challenge over a Zoom call, where the teacher’s ability to create engaging activities and group tasks is restricted. However, this kind of classroom interaction can be provided in a remote setting with interactive educational games, quizzes, and tasks to add a competitive or narrative aspect to learning.
These don’t have to be complex to be effective. For example, the popular running app Zombies run ‘motivates’ its users by periodically playing the sound effect of a zombie breathing down their neck until they pick up the pace. It’s a great demonstration of how a simple narrative context can make a task more engaging.
This kind of approach can be applied to the classroom. For example, in a science class, the process of identifying various chemicals through their reactions could be approached through an online game in which teams must correctly identify substances to investigate and solve a mystery. In addition, our team has experience working on several reading and maths games aimed at younger kids.
Online courses can have even more of a challenge regarding interactivity, especially if there is no live component to the course. Here, gamification can be a useful way to keep your students logging in to progress their courses regularly, helping them avoid disengaging over time. In addition, daily and weekly login rewards and scorestreaks encourage users not to miss a day. Combined with scores and rewards for good test results and consistent progress, they can be a powerful motivator to keep going even when the course gets more challenging.
Corporate training doesn’t have to consist of dry reading material and endless presentations. This kind of passive learning doesn’t work for or engage most people, which is why schools and universities have moved away from it for decades. However, incorporating gamified assessments with leaderboards and recognition for top achievers can create some friendly competition that motivates students to push a little harder to stand out.
Virtual and augmented reality training can enable professionals. Combined with difficult or high-risk jobs to practice their tasks for countless hours without the risks and expenses of practicing in the real world.
For example, virtual reality simulators are commonly used to train new pilots and inexpensive practices for experienced pilots. However, training flights are expensive in fuel alone, let alone the cost of an instructor’s time, airfield use, and the limited time per flight. In contrast, there is no limit to how long a student can spend practicing in a flight simulator.
In the medical field, augmented reality is combined with purpose-built peripherals to simulate several surgeries and medical procedures, providing invaluable training time where opportunities to practice safely are otherwise limited.
Not all simulations need to involve virtual reality, however. There are plenty of applications where a functional, interactive system is just as effective as an educational tool. For example, a working simulation of a car could be used to teach mechanics, tasking users with assembling components, or identifying and correcting faults within the game.
Games can also be used to teach, well, games. Mastering the theory behind a complex and strategic game like chess or even a fast-paced sport like basketball takes thousands of hours of practice and experience encountering every possible scenario. Attending a local club or team, you might be able to get a few hours of practice a week. With a simulation, you can practice all you want, set up any situation, and repeat it without the need to go anywhere or find a human opponent.
There are many potential uses for gamified education systems, but how do these platforms work? Gamified EdTech platforms can be split into four main components:
- User App. This is the user-facing part of the education platform that students or trainees will engage with interactive content. These apps are usually available on mobile or a web-based app, or both. There can also be a separate or combined portal for parents to review the material and their kid’s performance in apps for kids.
- Teacher App. This part of the platform is usually available via a web interface only. It is used by teachers and instructors to view student performance, assign tasks and interact with the class through messages, live video, and game elements. In addition, depending on the platform’s design, teachers might add or edit their own educational materials or simply select from content on the server.
- Server Side. The platform’s back-end stores all the content and provides it to both teachers and students as needed. In most cases, this is where new content is added before being made available to users.
- Admin Panel. The admin panel contains the tools for managing the platform itself—for example, monitoring traffic, content usage, and all the technical details. Combined running a digital service happens here.
Gamification has always been a part of education, even before the term was coined. Online EdTech platforms provide the means to take it further, making learning more interactive, more engaging, and ultimately more effective. Furthermore, it can provide benefits with no substitutes, such as its uses in simulating expensive and dangerous tasks.
Whether you are running an online course, giving corporate or professional skill training, or managing the switch to e-learning as a school, our team at FGFactory are experts in creating gamified systems to upgrade your learning experience. To learn more about how gamification can help your school or business, get in touch to talk to our experts.