Why was that adjustment to college classes so hard? Sitting through hours of lectures and PowerPoints can be challenging for even the most dedicated students. When it comes to online learning, many options are structured similarly. The main difference between college and online courses is that with online platforms you’re watching a recorded lecture which results in even less student interaction. We need a way to involve and motivate students. Gamified learning is the answer.
What is Gamified Learning?
Gamified learning is an approach to education that’s intended to make learning fun, engaging, and rewarding. It utilizes the structures and employs the elements of popular videogames to help improve comprehension. This can be done in several ways, including the following:
- Beating levels
- Unlocking achievements
- Earning badges
- Solving puzzles
- Staying within time restrictions
- Completing objectives
Advantages of Gamified Learning
Motivation is what pushes us to keep learning. This year we’ve seen a significant shift to online learning due to the Covid-19. A recent Twitter poll revealed that 84% of students feel less motivated when taking their classes online. Family members, TV, and other distractions are common when you’re learning from home and make it hard to stay focused on your studies. By keeping education fun and engaging we can drastically reduce that 84% statistic.
Gamification invites you to actively take part in your own learning experience. When a goal is given, you have something that you can strive towards. Then, when you reach that goal, rewards can be given out. A competitive element to the game not only increases motivation but also increases social interactions and cooperation.
The point of gamification is more student interaction. The more invested you are in learning, the better you’ll retain that information. Why would you spend hours listening to someone lecture, if you’re then unable to recall that knowledge when you need it? The information you learn needs to be accessible in real-world applications.
One study compared three different teaching methods: didactic, online modules, and gamification. The point of the study was to find out which of these three methods were most beneficial when implemented in a nursing orientation training program. The results showed that gamification had the highest post orientation scores, leading scientists to conclude that it’s the best method for knowledge retention.
Gamification promotes a firm understanding of the topic. Other learning approaches will only periodically test your knowledge. In a gamified system, it’s unlikely that you’ll advance to the next level if you don’t fully comprehend a specific concept. This helps pinpoint specific areas for improvement.
The idea that you should not advance in a curriculum unless you completely understand the current subject is known as Mastery-Based Learning. Sal Kahn is a big advocate of mastery-based learning and you can listen to his ted talk here. It may take certain students longer to master certain concepts, but the end result is still full comprehension.
Autonomous learning can be a slippery slope. In many cases, learning without some kind of extrinsic structure in place will cause you to lose your motivation. However, in a gamified system where students are more likely to be motivated to continue, autonomous learning is a benefit. If the system is structured well, you will have the freedom to choose which areas of information to pursue. This way you can avoid areas that do not interest you and would therefore hinder your motivation. With online gamified learning, you can learn from the comfort of your own home. You don’t need to set aside a specific time each week for a class, you can learn when you have the time.
Autonomous learning allows you to learn at your own pace. In a classroom setting, the whole class is often forced to learn at the pace the teacher sets. This is bad for two reasons. Accelerated students will be held back from advancing when they are ready and other students will be forced to advance before they have fully grasped the previous concept.
Learning progresses so much faster when it’s enjoyable. Beating levels and interacting with others online is what makes video games fun and it releases endorphins! Endorphins act similarly to opioids. They reduce pain and increase pleasure. Endorphins are released in response to certain stimuli. Most commonly, we connect endorphins to things like exercise, food, or sex. However, that feeling of accomplishment and excitement you get when you beat that really hard level you have been stuck on is also due to a release of endorphins. Endorphins improve memory and therefore improve your chances of success. You’re more likely to continue doing something that you find enjoyable.
Disadvantages of Gamified Learning
Cost to Develop
In an ideal world, you could get great stuff for free. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. To form a functioning online gamified system, it will likely take numerous employees to design, develop, test, and maintain the product. You may have to pay for things like images and music as well. Subsequently, this might reflect a higher cost for the consumer.
Time to Develop
Time is money. When compared to recording a lectured Powerpoint, designing and developing a product will take time. This is another thing that will drive up the cost of production. Additional time will be required to maintain it. Information will need to be updated as it is discovered.
There are many reasons why a gamified learning approach might be right for you, and why I hope other platforms will start to focus more on user engagement and gamification strategies. Traditional classes and other online courses can be boring. Gamification is enjoyable and it produces tangible results. Take control of your education and instill in yourself the desire to always be learning!