Gamification is on the lips of all modern educators and researchers all over the world at the moment. It seems as though playing games all day has some educational purpose, after all. Well, not the playing itself, but rather the principles of gaming.
There are a number of studies that have proven that gaming mechanics are excellent motivators for students to perform better than usual. There are a number of major companies around the world who have taken these same principles and grown their companies at better than projected rates.
Here we are going to look at game-based learning systems and what makes them tick.
A goal-orientated system
When you think of games, there is always an end goal. Either you slay the dragon or you win the race or you build the biggest city. It doesn’t matter what game you have played before. There is always a goal even if the goal itself is arbitrary.
Setting up a game-based learning system will require you to have certain goals that the students need to achieve. These goals in themselves won’t necessarily bring about the difference. Still, when coupled with some of the other principles, then you really start to see the learning system’s benefits and subsequent results.
A grade is not enough
A normal educational system only gives grades with minimal feedback. This feedback comes after a test or assignment and a grade is awarded very little else to explain n what went wrong. When you play games, there is always a score and different ways in which you can increase your score.
After each level, you can immediately see where you lost your point and when you retry the level, you will be more focused on getting that one aspect right. Game-based learning systems rely heavily on feedback to make it a success.
The students want to know how they are doing and as they receive their feedback, they know where to improve. Therefore, continuous support in everything that they do holds the key.
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Prior knowledge, a blessing and a curse
If you have ever played a game that is too difficult, you will know that it sucks. The same goes for game-based learning – when the content and the goals are too difficult to attain, then most people will give up. When you make your game-based system, you need to make sure that you cater for students at different levels of competence.
Some students will have prior knowledge and find a specific task easy, whereas another student will find the same task too difficult. Building in a leveling component into your system enables more students to progress at an appropriate pace. In the end, everyone will reach the same goal.
Motivation and inspiration
This is probably one of the best gaming principles around. Students love to compete with one another, but what they love even more is a badge of achievement. When you give your students the odd badge of achievement or recognition for something that they did well, it will motivate them to do even better next time.
It also adds another element of gaming and that is competition. When you play a game, the aim is to win. Incorporating that element in game-based learning encourages students to compete with their peers, but in a healthy way.
The one thing that educators should monitor is unhealthy competition and cheating. If you have a well thought out system in place, your students will motivate each other to higher heights.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
People are drawn to things that are aesthetically appealing. The same goes for education. Students would much rather engage with material that is visually attractive than plain text. The multi-media elements that game-based learning affords, make it possible for educators to create material that will appeal to that nature of the students.
As technology develops, so does the quality of the media that can be used in education. Teachers also don’t have to be creative designers either. The tools to develop visual aids are ever-improving and create amazing material at the click of a button.
The only thing that is needed is a general theme and the software creates artistic and thematic materials. Everything in the learning program should be aimed at being of high quality. If the visuals are good, then the actual learning content will also be.
Game-based learning is here to stay. The research has shown how beneficial it is for students. As the gaming elements that could have a positive impact on learning is researched, the benefits could only be further enhanced.
The main advantage that game-based learning has over other forms of learning theory is that it keeps students engaged and committed without letting them feel like studying is a chore. All the elements working together make for a potent combination to improve learning.
Connie Elser is a student counselor who’s working with students and teachers to come up with innovative solutions to enhance the learning experience. She also works as an academic writer who works for science and engineering students to help them with thesis and dissertation work. In her free time, she plays guitar, writes poems and practices yoga.
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