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Gamification: What it Is & What it Is Not
posted by: Ruthie | September 13, 2013, 08:46 PM   

With the recent blog entry about using badges in the classroom, this seems a good time to write about how to leverage gamification in your classroom.  The two concepts often go hand in hand, with badges being an excellent way to add a level of gamification.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misunderstanding among teachers about what gamification is and what it is not.  Teachers often think they can add just a game or a simulation to a lesson or a unit and then they can say that they’ve ‘gamified’ their classroom.  True gamification is far beyond that. In fact, you can gamify your class without ever playing an actual game, and many teachers already include some aspect of gamification in their class.

Gamification is not:


  • Playing a game in class
  • Using a simulation to teach a lesson
  • Integrating technology

    Gamification is: leveraging the methods video games use to motivate players in order to motivate people in other settings (like classrooms).
  • Classroom gamification can include any or all of the following:

  • Adding rewards (like badges) for completing certain tasks
  • Keeping track of points
  • Allowing students to create a character or an avatar
  • Integrating proficiency based learning through ‘levels’ or ‘platforms’
  • Giving students opportunities to ‘mod’ assignments and projects (make small changes that still fit in the theme, while simultaneously allowing for individualization)
  •  Giving students an end-goal and allowing them to choose how they get there
  • Having an in-class economy/money system

    The power of using gamification is in its ability to motivate.  Sid Meier’s Civilization series is known for its ‘just one more turn’ effect, that keeps players glued to the computer screen even after they’ve won, and video games are well-known for their ability to hook players for hours at a time.

    Teachers don’t need to be told that adding a competitive measure to the classroom adds motivation.  Teachers have used score boards and class money for motivational aspects even before gamification became a hot topic in education.  Gamification is more than just adding these elements in, it becomes the framework through which learning in that class is approached.

    If you’re interested in learning about gamification, you can read about what the PlayMaker School is doing, or you can watch Jane McGonigal’s TED talk.


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