Games are just for pleasure, right? Think again. Studies are showing more and more that contrary to popular belief, “games are not so much a tool for escapism but rather a way to use our best selves,” (Hall, 2014). By playing games, people are able to actively learn, find solutions to serious, real-world problems, and build trust and camaraderie with other individuals. Since games have the ability to produce these kinds of results, gamification has become a rising educational tool in today’s classrooms. Gamification can be described as “the application of typical elements of game playing (rules of play, point scoring, competition with others) to other areas of activity, specifically to engage users in problem-solving,” (Hall, 2014). If this sounds sketchy, just think, games are an amazing motivational tool because students enjoy participating in them and they can conceptualize challenging topics in the process. Such gaming is particularly useful in the STEM fields. One website that provides several of these sorts of games is The Education Arcade, which offers games that Middle Childhood math and science educators could especially employ. For example, “The Lure of the Labyrinth” is a game for pre-algebra students and covers material that is directly linked to state standards. Another great resource for finding mathematics related gamification is TeachHub.com. Beyond web-based games, teachers can just have fun creating their own simple games to play, or they can replicate game shows such as Jeopardy in their class.
Vicki Davis’ Edutopia article helps to clarify how gaming can be used effectively in the classroom:
- Gamification is more than just slapping points onto an activity and calling it a game, there are mechanics which must be followed in order for students to have an engaging experience. Teachers who desire to use gaming as a foundational tool need to be intentional about actually achieving their intended learning outcomes instead of simply allowing them to be time-fillers.
- Realize that there are four different game player types and so it is useful to know their distinctions and which students follow which mold.
- Understand that gaming isn’t just for little kids, it can be implemented through middle school all the way up to higher education for positive results (Davis, 2014).
This just provides a brief snapshot into the world of gamification and how it can be applied to teaching today, it is certainly intriguing to see how such a tool can be used to further education in a fun way.
Davis, V. (2014, March 20). Gamification in Education. Retrieved November 9, 2018, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/gamification-in-education-vicki-davis
Hall, M. (2014, May 13). What is Gamification and Why Use It in Teaching? Retrieved November 9, 2018, from https://ii.library.jhu.edu/2014/05/13/what-is-gamification-and-why-use-it-in-teaching/