Answering #Gamification Questions from a 7th Grade Student-Part 2

Here is part two of the questions about gamification from a 7th grade in a California school. You can see part one of the question and answer session at this link (and you want to check it out, she asked some great questions).

10. How long have you taught with a traditional learning version? AND 11. How long have you taught with a gamified learning version?

When I was in college, we learned to teach in the “traditional” manner and I have been doing that for a while and still do in some instances. First as a student teacher and then as a professor and even as a facilitator of training events. However, as a professor, I have also always taught a class where I divide students into teams, give them a mock Request for Proposal and have them compete against one another. In that sense, I think it is safe to say that I have been using a form of gamification for the past 19 or so. (although, it wasn’t called gamification). And I’ve been doing traditional instruction for the past 19 years or so.

In the past few years, since the publication of my Gamification books, I’ve focused more on using gamification and leverage different types of gamification in the classroom outside of the one class. However, it’s important to keep in mind that everything needs to be done in moderation. There are plenty of good reasons to still use traditional instruction. For one, using a lecture is a good way to convey facts, it’s just not the best for helping students learn about problem solving. Discussions are still great tools for weighing different sides of an issue and for understanding things like persuasion and empathy. I don’t think the goal is to completely do away with traditional learning, rather to balance it with games and gamification. I teach a course about gamification and a course on instructional game design so both of those courses, of course:) use gamification and games.

12. What percentage of students are motivated because of gamified methods?

I think it’s hard to guess at the exact percent. However, I will say that there will always be students and people who do not like games. Some who even hate games. So games and gamification is not the answer to all motivational problems in school or a solution that will help everyone become better. Gamification, like every other instructional strategy has it’s limits.

And, it always seems that people who don’t like to play games are very proud of the fact and will loudly proclaim how much they don’t like games. Keep in mind that any solution will not be right for everyone.

However, we know games work for learning so just because someone doesn’t like it, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t participate.

13. About what percentage of teachers around the world use gamified learning?

Another question that, I unfortunately, don’t know the answer. My post yesterday indicated that about 55% of teachers have used a game of some sort so, perhaps, around 50-60%. I will say that gamification and games for learning is not just a phenomenon that is limited to the United States. I’ve traveled around the world to China, Mexico, Singapore and other places and every place I have traveled people are interested in games and gamification for learning.

14. Is it possible to use gamified learning without technology?

Yes, I believe that gamification is a design accordance and not a technology. Although there are some people who are steadfast in their belief that gamification requires technology. I don’t believe that it does require technology. In terms of games, there are tons of card games and board games that do NOT require technology. Technology is an enable of gamification but not a requirement.

15. What are the limits of gamification usage?

Like any instructional approach there are limits. I already mentioned above that not everyone likes games so that is a limit. Sometime information is better presented in other methods or instructional strategies. Good teachers weigh what they need to teach with the available approaches and pick the best approach. Gamification, as I mentioned above, isn’t the right answer for softer skills such as negotiation, problem-solving, communication. No one instructional approach is good for all types of learning.

16. Does gamified learning differ from game based learning?

Yes, to me “gamification” is using parts or elements of games in instruction and a “game” is a self-contained experience that has a defined beginning, middle and end and is played in one area (called a “game space”).

17. Why do traditional teachers think that not as good as traditional methods?

I am not sure all traditional teachers think in that way. There may be many reasons a teacher is reluctant to use gamification. He or she may be unfamiliar with the concept. The teacher might be under a great deal of pressure to cover a great deal of material in a short time, they might not be comfortable with the elements of gamification, they might receive push-back from the PTA or administration. They might not even know it exists. So I am not sure they don’t think it’s as good but I don’t have a great deal of data on the attitudes of teachers toward gamification. That might make a good study.

One good resource for teachers for using games in the classroom is the Game-Based Learning section of the Edutopia web site. Here is a link.


18. When was the gamified learning method first used?

I believe the term was coined in the early 2000’s but wasn’t widely accepted or adopted until around 2010. If you consider that gamification is using game elements outside of an actual game, I think an argument can be made that teachers going back thousands and thousands of years have used elements from games such as story, mystery and intrigue ever since they first started teaching. In a way, clever and thoughtful teachers have always used engagement methods that are shared by game designers in the creation and delivery of instruction…even before the term was created.

19. About how many schools have transitioned from traditional to the gamified learning.

I don’t think many. I don’t have any statistics on this. However, I think gamification will be used increasingly in schools but I don’t see a future where very many schools are completely gamified. So I think the number is low and will remain low. (Unless, of course we think of traditional school elements like grades, levels and class rank as a type of gamification.)

20. Methods?

There are a number of methods. I divide gamification into two types. One is called Content gamification where content is made to be more game-like. So you add a story or character to a lesson and make it a little more like a game. The second types is called structural gamification which means that a game structure (such as awarding points, badges or creating a leaderboard) is added around the content without changing the content itself. This article Types of Structural Gamification provides good examples of the methods used in structural gamification.

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