After yesterday’s class discussion on gamification and it’s potential in the education space, I decided to learn more. My quest to learn more is driven by pure curiosity, my experience as an AmeriCorps member in the public school system, and my public policy studies in education.
Gamification in the business space: I’ve learned that gamification is the the use of game design elements in non-game contexts. Yesterday’s discussion brought a few examples to light such as the use of universities to encourage students to attend sporting events and entering them into the running for big games in other sports. Another common example is the use of awarding badges to active users or participants in forums or webpages; both the website Yelp and Trip Advisor have use badges as an award system. In this manner these pages have turned every day use of their resources into a game, by giving users awards the companies are creating achievement goals, a common element in a game.
FUN FACT: As a planet, we spend 3 billion hours a week playing video and computer games.
As someone who’s not an active user on sites that award badges, and unfortunately am not an undergrad any more who can participate in the sporting event challenges, I am not privy to first hand experience of these gamifications. Upon first introduction to the idea of badges, it reminded me of my time as a girl scout when I received badges for learning wilderness skills or helping the environment through conservation.
Yelp has 20 badges that its users can potentially earn through checking into the required locations. The badges will then signal other users the area of “expertise” or interest of that user.
Gamification & Education: a brief history
Through my research of education and gamification I’ve revisited some games from my childhood which were considered some of the first products to implement gamification in the education space. Carmen San Diego and Math blaster were two of the examples I found.
Furthermore, the games where others were able to interact with one another such as World of Warcraft and Game Star Mechanic allowed users to build their own communities. Now there’s also platforms such as the Mozilla Open Badges Project which allows users to earn badges for their skills.
Badges in the online classroom?:
If these badges and previously implementations of gamification in business and educational learning were successful why not use them for online learning? And if they are utilized in online education, will they make an impact? One example of gamification already being used online is through Kaplan’s courses.
In pilot, Kaplan’s online university used challenges and badges to spur students to work harder and improved grades by more than 9%.
Kaplan employed the use of Badgeville into its online information of technology courses and is in the midst of employing these elements into its business courses. The badge system awarded students for being more active in the online forums as well as gave additional badges to those that took on optional assignments. The system began as a pilot and has since been implemented with 700 online students. Furthermore, the introduction of these badges has demonstrated that at some point 85% of the students have challenged themselves with the optional assignment or question earning that extra badge.
Most significantly, the “unsuccessful rate” — the number of students who failed the course or did not complete it — decreased by 15.76%.
This badge program is just the beginning of gamification in the online learning space. As more colleges offer online courses or even add an online element to a traditionally offered course, gamification will and should be added into the mix.
Here’s a powerful infographic that demonstrates the connection between education and gamification: