Toñi Legidos Martínez
Upper School Teacher and Digital Leader
Surely many of you have already heard this term, gamification, related to business fields or human resources but, have you wondered about its application in education? Let’s try to bring some light to this concept.
Gamification is a learning technique that gives the full potential of games to the field of education to improve students learning outcomes in class.
Playing games has always been a pastime of human beings, especially at an early age, but we have almost never seen it linked to teaching. It seems that learning and enjoying are two verbs that cannot go together. I am happy to say that nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, it is not only limited to children: we all like to play no matter how old we are.
Gamification is a learning technique that complements the methodology used by each teacher by using a series of resources and tools in the classroom that help to:
- motivate students
- customize activities and content
- meet the needs of students
- acquire knowledge
- improve attention
- make learning more fun and therefore more attractive to the student.
Students look forward to every class in advance because they have fun and learn in a way that they will always remember. This is the dream of teachers who love to see student progression and above all who care about their students learning.
New technologies have made things much easier for us to be able to apply gamification techniques in our classes, and content creation companies do not cease in their efforts to create more and more tools focused on education related to games and video games to assist in teaching and learning. This is something we can use in our classrooms, at all levels of education, for all subjects and with excellent results.
Video games help improve logical memory, concentration, focus and planning. In addition, they develop skills such as coordination, motor skills and spatial orientation… useful visual-spatial skills in professions such as engineering, architecture or art and design.
In the following link you can find a very interesting infographic about this, as well as the complete article in EDUCATION 3.0. Examples of some of these tools that we already use in our school could be: Kahoot, ClassDojo, Socrative, Quizziz, Minecraft Education, Smart….
But, what if we don’t have access to these digital resources? No problem! since gamification consists of being able to adapt any game, including traditional board games, cards and strategy games, etc., to the classroom methodology, always ensuring compliance with the curriculum and achieving the required learning outcomes. This of course means adaptation on the part of the teacher but it is not always about technology.
What are the real benefits of developing gamification in the classroom? I can tell you a few below:
- Motivation: one of the main characteristics of the game is competitiveness, and it is obvious that this is a motivating question for anyone.
- Performance: when there is motivation, performance increases. We are much more productive when we like something and have fun.
- They improve response capacity by having to solve unforeseen events, by setting problems and having time to solve them
- They encourage teamwork by having to solve problems collaboratively
- They stimulate creativity, attention and visual memory.
- Improves strategy and leadership
- It benefits the teaching of other languages (chats, storytelling, instructions…)
- They favour critical thinking, making you reflect
I can say it first-hand. I am a History teacher, a subject traditionally equally hated and loved by students and even by myself when I studied it at school. Why? It can be boring. That is why my first concern from the first minute I stood in front of a class, was that this wouldn’t happen to my students. I have spent years of ceaseless researching, following the example of other teachers, training, etc., to make this possible and, although I am aware that it is not possible to reach everyone, at least I am trying and would like to think that I have been successful in many cases.
Since the best proof is the evidence, let me share a video where some of my students tell first-hand how they felt when used Minecraft Education in History class.
In conclusion, when using games and video games in the classroom, what is important is that teachers work as a guide for the correct use of this Gamification model, and for this reason it is important to make clear from the very beginning what the purpose and learning outcomes will be. To set out clearly what you want to achieve via means of assessment should be understood by all students. In short: make them come to classes motivated and eager to learn a lot!