Guest Blog Post: Five Tips for Gamifying Your Classroom

Gamification is applying typical elements of video games, such as levels and experience points, into other areas of life. Video games can be effective learning devices, assisting understudies, and enhancing the learning environment. Higher education has been making moderate movements towards implementing video games into the classroom, by conjoining the standard curriculum with an exciting “video game” feel in a concept called Gamification. Many studies and first-hand experiences have shown that the act of gamification in a classroom has proven to show positive results on a student’s learning, however many instructors may be unsure of how to go about this upcoming movement. I wanted to share five important tips to recall when gamifying a classroom environment.

1) Create Quests & Goals
Much like designing a standard curriculum, the initial step is to make sense of what exactly you need to accomplish by gamifying a course, except your pop-quizzes and tests have now become quests and missions.
A great place to start in the world of gamification is to identify the struggles you have faced with previous classes. Were there certain aspects of the curriculum where students have shown disinterest? Gamifying these modules by turning them into a “game” with a storyline and fulfilling quests can be a great jumping-off point to try out this new teaching tactic.

2) Make The Experience Worthwhile
A large issue that is faced in the gamification world is the entire idea failing shortly after it begins. While the purpose of classroom gamification is to implement a new teaching tactic into the curriculum, it needs to be fun. Otherwise, it will not be well received among the class and you will find yourself back at square one.
Try it out for yourself. Let your colleagues try it. Did they have fun? Did they learn something new? Collect their constructive criticisms of their experience and implement their suggestions into your course design. This can help ensure that your gamification endeavors won’t be a complete disaster from day one.

3) Utilize Preexisting Games
Creating a video game-focused learning environment from scratch can be an enormous uphill battle. Thankfully, there are already a plethora of education-based video games circling around the internet with a strong K-12 focus. Additionally, as gamification becomes increasingly popular, there are many success stories and guides available to help a gamified course for a student of any age.

4) Befriend Other Gamifiers
The glory of today’s world is the ease of communication and information gathering. The internet allows us to build relationships with other teachers who may have struggled with the same issues that are being experienced (or vise-versa), and these individuals can share the successes they have had with gamification, thus helping you get the most out of your gamification endeavors.

5) Analyze Your Classroom Data
Just as you would with any other classroom data, like test scores and grading, it is vital to assess the outcomes of the gamified course. Are students more inclined to progress through the course material in this format? Are average test scores higher than previous, un-gamified years? If so, then everything is going well. If not, it is important to find out why and reconstruct the course accordingly. Often times, simply asking students what they did or did not like about the course will give you a first-hand look on the success and/or failures of the overall plan.

By Taylor Tomita

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