For the last few months, I've been talking to educators from all walks of life and found that a top priority for majority of teaching professionals is student engagement. Keeping students interested in class is a challenge and speaking from personal experience, coming up with new ideas to engage them is extra work we aren't paid for. Young students have an abundance of entertainment and receive information in new snappy formats. Typical school education with dry text just doesn't cut it anymore. The challenge of student engagement has become more difficult during the pandemic. If you have been teaching online, it's likely that you've encountered more awkward silences and painful struggles to get students to interact through screens. I've been there...
To solve the challenge of student engagement, I am here to help fellow educators to save time and get inspired with ideas to gamify your classes! First, let me explain what gamification is in layman's terms:
Gamification is applying game-like elements to everyday activities 🎲.
Tech Billionaire Elon Musk who started schools to teach children problem solving through games advises that"the more you can gamify the process of learning the better". Gamification can help us interact and view mundane tasks in a new way.
Ideas: How Do I Apply Gamification In My Classroom?
Of course, I am here to inspire with ideas you can easily apply in your online, blended, or in-person classes. Here are my favourite game-like elements and ideas to apply them:
According to Techopedia, avatars are personalised graphical illustrations that represents a user. Adding graphics or "visual treats" as I call it, are a fantastic way to gamify lessons. Popular video games put effort into character avatars and design them in a way that encourages players emotionally connect to the game. Of course, you are not expected to create detailed 3D models of your students, just using simple illustrations to represent students (or other characters such as historical figures as game avatars in a history lesson) can create a new way to interact with the lesson.
Missions sometimes known as quests are tasks and goals in video games that a player group aims to complete to gain rewards. Storyline-driven missions give players a sense of purpose during play. Communicating clear goals in the context of a theme or story can help student re-imagine roles and motivate them to immerse themselves in the task.
A map is an indispensable tool that helps people understand and explore positions in a visual graphic format. Creating a visual map of your lesson can help with making expectations clear and visualising student progress. Disguising chapters or lesson objectives as whimsical locations on a map can transport students minds from the classroom to an imaginative adventure.
Point systems are effective ways to reward and reinforce desired behaviours among your students. It is a great way to encourage healthy competition and excite your class. Ensure to offer different ways to earn points and to ensure no one feels like a loser. My recommendation is to always include easy ways to earn points too (such as points for participating or achieving a personal best). Ensure there is a visual way for you and your students to monitor the status of points collected like a leaderboard. From my experience it is best to score students in teams to encourage teamwork. When scoring students individually avoid displaying bottom scorers on the leaderboard. This is likely to cause some students to lose interest in participating if they feel like they won't win anyway, focus on the top 3 scorers.
Planning the right incentives when gamifying your class can make a big difference. People are always willing to put more effort to get something they want. Provide rewards for reaching milestones or take your point system a step further by creating a Rewards shop where students can exchange points. Asking your students what they would find valuable in advance might be helpful when choosing rewards. Prizes do not have to cost much, small tokens like candy, stickers or a simple printed certificate can make most pretty happy. If you are teaching online and find it difficult to plan for physical gifts, some ideas include gift vouchers or special privileges like being allowed to pick the next student activity.
Let's look at a few examples to get inspired on other ways to gamify learning experiences.
Examples Of Gamification In Education
1. Flitlit Reading Programme
The Welsh company set out to help improve literacy standards by presenting a literacy-rich curriculum in a new way. Flitlit provides students with a new way to learn of the language of text, storytelling and more by using game elements like characters stories and illustrated maps.
2. Google Be Internet Awesome
Google's Be Internet Awesome teaches kids the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety so they can explore the online world with confidence. Kids play their way through the curriculum through an immersive game world that incorporates bite size lessons, tasks and quizzes.
A great way to gamify language, vocabulary and spelling activities, Educandy provides 8 game templates for teachers to enter custom words and questions. The games activities come in three flavours: words, pairs and quizzes. Subscribe or follow us on social media for more ideas, inspiration and gamification tools.