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Why the Gamification of Education is So Popular

Published:
February 13, 2024

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Written by Alan Sitomer

When I went to school, I learned about The Battle of the Bulge by being assigned a two page reading to do from a 932 page, 4 lb. textbook. Not really proud to admit this but, as I recall, at best I skimmed the material trying to glean whatever would be the most efficient way to pass the inevitable test my history teacher had planned to give our class. And what was my motivation to even do that minimal amount of work?

Grades. The carrot of the A or the stick of the F. Remove the external motivation and I would have simply blown off the learning entirely.

Thing is, the Battle of the Bulge was the largest and bloodiest single battle fought by the United States in World War II and the third-deadliest campaign in American history. That means it had all the ingredients needed to hypnotize me. As a teenage boy, if there was a way that my teachers could have brought the vibrancy of that battle to life for me (great teachers do this, lesser teachers don’t, mine didn’t), I would have taken so much more from it than I did. There was heroism, fear, dismemberment, drama, courage in the face of terrible odds and bravery the likes of which no one from our generation had ever been asked to demonstrate.

These days, there are at least 14 video games that immerse players in the conflict. I venture to say that even the worst of these games hold more appeal to students than a school-issued textbook. That’s because gamifying education offers opportunities to engage learners in ways that speak to the hearts and minds of today’s generation of kids in a way that the materials of two decades ago don’t.

In no uncertain terms, the gamification of education has become increasingly popular due to its effectiveness in engaging students and enhancing the learning experience. Heck, when the University of Chicago embraces this approach to teaching and learning, it means there is legitimacy to the approach.

Here are some key reasons for its popularity:

  • Increased Engagement: Gamification introduces elements like competition, immersion,  points, levels, and badges into the learning process, making it more engaging and enjoyable for students. This increased engagement can lead to improved motivation and attention.
  • Enhanced Learning Experience: By turning learning activities into games, complex subjects can become more approachable and easier to understand. This can make the learning experience more interactive and less monotonous.
  • Immediate Feedback: In gamified learning, students receive immediate feedback on their performance, which helps them understand their progress and areas needing improvement. This instant feedback loop is often more effective than traditional assessment methods.
  • Encourages Healthy Competition: Leaderboards and scoring systems can foster a sense of healthy competition among students, motivating them to put forth their best effort.
  • Technology Integration: With the increasing use of technology in education, gamification aligns well with digital learning tools and platforms, making it a natural fit for contemporary educational environments.
  • Positive Reinforcement: The rewards system in gamification acts as a positive reinforcement, encouraging students to continue learning and improving. So often our tests in K-12 schools take a punitive approach to assessment.

The Benefits of Gamification vs Textbook Based Learning

The Benefits of Gamification vs Textbook Based Learning

Of course, it's important to strike a balance and integrate games and learning in a way that complements and enhances the education process. Some folks are doing this extraordinarily well and they are worth paying attention to.

All in all, the benefits are well documented. Perhaps it’s time to consider gaming as a gateway to engender student success?

Author

Alan Sitomer

Alan is Mastery Coding's CEO and a California Teacher of the year award winner who has written 22 books. He left the classroom and started this company because he sees the opportunity for students to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty through obtaining jobs in emerging technologies.

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