What is Gamification And How Is It Used In Education?

Nikolas Kairinos, CEO at  Soffos.ai: The World’s First AI-Powered KnowledgeBot, explores…

Whether you’re trying to keep up a seven-day streak on the language learning app Duolingo, or just trying to improve the ‘strength’ of your LinkedIn profile, the chances are, you’re aware of gamification.

Although delivering a first-class education has been difficult under the unique constraints of the pandemic, technologies that gamify the learning experience have been a great help when it comes to keeping students motivated outside the classroom, even if this hasn’t always been an easy task.

Many people – learners and educators alike – will be keen to return to ‘normal’ learning practices as soon as the effects of the pandemic start to ease off. Given that education traditionally hinges around the physical classroom, this is unsurprising. However, educators and corporate training leaders have nothing to lose and plenty to gain by integrating gamification into their lesson plans going forward.

So – how can gamification be harnessed effectively in educational settings?

Why gamification means motivation

It’s important to first assess why gamification technologies, which rely on the use of game design and principles outside of traditional gaming contexts, work so well.

On a very basic level, humans get a kick out of gaming. Research has long proven that playing video games releases dopamine in the brain – a ‘feel good’ chemical, which in turn encourages people to keep on gaming. In educational contexts, learning from behavioural science suggests that using these principles ‘nudges’ users to continue studying keenly, whether this is to earn a virtual currency within an app, or achieve a new level of fluency in a language they are practicing.

In short, these technologies encourage learners to be consistent and autonomous with their educational efforts, allowing them to gain some fun and enjoyment throughout the process.

Implementing gamification in the classroom

Obviously, how these technologies are implemented will vary based on the specific educational context; a schoolteacher, for example, will have different learning objectives in mind for their students, compared to a corporate learning leader.

When upskilling employees, a training manager might want to set gamification tasks at the end of each classroom module to consolidate learning, for example. This might take the shape of progressing to different levels on the training platform, as course content and learning materials become more complex.

Elsewhere, in the classroom, students may benefit from flashcard creator apps and quizzes that improve their revising skills. Studies have shown that these can be vital to the knowledge retrieval process and help students to reinforce their learning, even well before modern technology existed, in fact, one summative analysis of over 200 experiments conducted across 70 years, for example, suggests that learners are more likely to recall and learn new content after using these strategies  , than if they were to simply take notes the old-fashioned way.

Not only will students be able to see their progress increase in real terms, but they will also be able to assess how they measure up to their peers, which should encourage some healthy competition. Platforms that encourage peer learning by utilizing leader boards and ‘prizes’ of virtual currencies can be a useful way to keep learners engaged and motivated.

Above all else, these platforms can provide a real sense of fun within the learning process – and who doesn’t need that in times like these?