Man does not stop playing because he gets old, but he gets old because he stops playing” (Bernard Shaw)
Have you ever heard of gamification? Gamification is increasingly used in different areas, especially those related to education.
Gamification is the use of techniques and dynamics of play and leisure to promote motivation in learning. In short, they are learning by playing.
Let’s go a little deeper into this way of promoting learning, which for some time now has seen its application increased in the classroom, mainly due to the numerous tools and resources provided by new technologies and the obvious advantages it brings to the education of the student body.
Gamification in the classroom, playful learning
There is no single and universal definition of gamification. However, all agree that the essence of this concept is to extract or apply the principles and elements of the game in non-gaming environments, such as the educational and professional environment. Specifically, two intrinsic values to the game are fundamental; motivation and competitiveness favour learning when applied as a pedagogical tool.
It is convenient to understand that a gamification is a tool and not an end and that its actual value is in its correct use. It does not only consist of introducing a game in the classroom to entertain and make the students pass the time, but it must be an action aimed at seeking the involvement of the students in favour of their development in the values and contents that are put on the board.
A « learning by doing » is possible to evaluate competencies such as observation, problem-solving, intuition, empathy, risk, decision-making, etc.
The role of the teacher in gamification
The figure of the teacher is key to the proper application of gamification in the classroom. Its success and loyalty in the student depend on a good choice of game dynamics, adapted and related to the content to be treated, and the profile of the classroom members—also the establishment of clear and concise rules and defining the objectives of gamification.
It will be equally essential to designate achievements or trophies adjusted to the game and the participants. Depending on the type of gamification applied, classifications, levels, points, challenges or badges can be assigned as essential elements for the experience to be successful.
The educator will be in charge of clearly explaining the elements that will intervene in the game process and evaluating the results of the gamification dynamics that have been carried out.
Eight benefits of gamification in the classroom
Fun equals motivation
We all enjoy playing. It is proven that play increases dopamine levels, which, in turn, increase motivation, achieving more significant involvement of the student in the learning process. The positive feeling that the game creates is an educational stimulus since it predisposes to discovery, increasing attention span.
Adding the fun factor to the educational formula eliminates negative feelings of fear, obligation, and anxiety in some students in the school environment and introduces others such as motivation. Gamification makes activities not only more fun but also more productive for the transmission of knowledge.
Promotion of competition
Gamification promotes competition, which works as a stimulus for the individual to achieve goals, improve oneself and achieve personal development. The application of didactic methodologies based on the game and the competition must be healthy, healthy, organized and directed. It must establish prizes or achievements that are of little importance or merely symbolic.
In addition, in a short period, offer all participants the real possibility of winning, either individually or in teams; it can also achieve the benefu=its of the application of cooperative learning or learning mechanics. Problem-based.
Taking these principles into account will ensure that the activity offers positive learning results.
The progressive difficulty
it is essential to consider increasing the problem in the game. Most of the games have levels to overcome, establishing new and small challenges that guarantee to keep the student’s full attention and immersion in the activity, thus avoiding boredom and loss of interest in the participants. It is essential to ensure that the game is neither very easy nor challenging and that the challenges to be achieved are progressive.
Gamification introduces concentration as one of the means to achieve the goals established by the game or games put into practice in the classroom. Greater attention, performance and achievement of prizes during the participation in the game, the better assimilation of the contents, the development of skills, and therefore, learning.
Development in the field of new technologies
Technology has been an ally of growth and the introduction of gamification in the classroom.
At the software or hardware level, ICT offers endless new possibilities to play and learn within the educational field, which contributes not only to knowing the subjects or topics to be covered.
It also implies the development of the student in their talent in front of different devices (tablets, computers, even mobile phones), the use of the internet or the handling of applications.
Benefits interpersonal relationships in the classroom
Gamifying also fosters cooperation between the different students who make up the classroom, especially in teamwork dynamics. Learning to collaborate with colleagues to achieve a common goal involves discussion, conversation, and decision-making. Interpersonal relationships between students are enhanced by improving the work environment in the class and increasing solidarity and understanding, and individual social skills.
Results in real-time
A sound teaching system based on gamification in the classroom will offer us immediate results; learning will be fast and valuable. The student will automatically know their achievements at each game level and their need to improve efforts and performance to achieve the objectives. With it, the teacher will be able to evaluate the students’ capacities and evolution in real-time.
And, of course, it improves academic performance.
From all the previous points, this last section shows that the game makes learning attractive and improves the student’s academic performance.
Some resources to gamify the classroom
There are many tools to gamify the classroom with which students can learn concepts and content in a fun and easy way. Below we will cite five online resources of the most used in educational gamification.
It is a free and highly visual platform, one of the most used in classrooms worldwide. Available in the web version, iOS and Android, in Classdojo, the teacher can create different classrooms that students can access, perform the tasks assigned in each of them, and receive points and badges for completing them. It allows creating a classification to get the motivation of the students.
Kahoot is a tool for creating question and answer games adapted to the content to be dealt with in the classroom. An easy and intuitive way to create highly visual quizzes that will appeal to students.
Trivinet is a collaborative educational resource that allows you to create a free online trivia game adapted to the classroom contents. The famous board game’s image and likeness can create different themes to compete individually or in groups.
Socrative is another resource for creating multiple choice or short answer questionnaires sent via web or app to students to answer them and test their knowledge. Also free and multiplatform
This tool makes it possible to create interactive presentations. In this way, Pear Deck allows you to teach face-to-face or online classes to send questions to the students that they will receive on their devices in real-time. An excellent way to play and interact to make a class more enjoyable.