Gamification in the Classroom

by Alice Keeler

xGamification is different than Game-Based Learning (GBL). Gamification is the idea of applying gaming mechanics to non-gaming situations. Popular games are motivating to players. When playing your favorite game, try to think about why it is so enjoyable to you and how you might recreate this experience and incorporate gamification in the classroom.

Offer Choice

Students who are resistant to completing work may simply feel as if they have little control over the situation. What is the learning objective, and are there multiple ways to demonstrate it? Can you offer 2 or 3 options for assignments that students can complete? Try to target different student interests and different ways to be creative.

Give Feedback

While grades are a form of feedback, meaningful and immediate feedback is more motivating. Try giving students feedback as soon as you can. This is one way that technology can help out – if you can automate some of the feedback, your workload will be reduced and your student will get the feedback faster. Choose assignments for which you can give each student a specific and personalized response. Specifically list what the student did well and give specific suggestions for improvement.

“You did an excellent job clearly expressing your ideas – I felt that I knew exactly what you were talking about, and you demonstrated that you were able to apply your learning to a new situation. The example you provided about your dog was the perfect analogy.”

“Suggestions: Try to shorten the length of your sentences. Some of them are too long. I would challenge you to try not to use commas in your next assignment other than when creating a list of items.”

Identify the Strengths of Others

When playing an online game such as World of Warcraft, you learn to identify skills in other players that you lack. What are your students good at that they can teach you or be responsible for in the class? Do not be afraid to let students be an expert at something over you — embrace the experts in the room. A great way to start with that is to let students teach you how to do some technology tricks.

“Can anyone teach me how to do animation in PowerPoint?”

“I notice that you’re great with organizing people – can you help to plan the next activity?”

Set Goals

Goal setting can be very motivating. You want students to set short-term goals that are achievable. Consider having students identify their weekly goal each Monday and then have them record it someplace. A goal of “I want to get a B” is not specific enough. This goal also might not be attainable by the end of the week. Check that the students’ goals are just above their ability levels, but within their reach.

Celebrate Success

Find reasons to celebrate. Make a big deal out of making goal and give your class something to celebrate together as a bonding experience.

Alice Keeler

Alice Keeler is professor of Curriculum, Instruction and Technology at California State University Fresno and Teacher on Special Assignment at ACEL Charter High school. Alice is a Google Certified Teacher, New Media Consortium K12 Ambassador, and Microsoft Innovative Educator. Passionate that kids are not failures and using technology to change the way we approach learning and grading. Alice tweets @alicekeeler and blogs at alicekeeler.com.