MLGA: Making Learning Great Again!
This seems to be a new, hot term that is being thrown around these days. And no, we’re not referring to letting your students play popular mobile games like Among Us or Mobile Legends: Bang Bang during lesson time.
Rather, ‘gamification’ refers to the incorporation of game-based elements, such as a point system or even ‘missions’, in non-game contexts. A familiar example of gamification would be in marketing campaigns. Starbucks has a ‘Rewards’ system for their members where every dollar spent is equivalent to a gold star earned. This is done to entice customers to continue patronising their stores in order to earn those exclusive rewards! Pretty interesting, right?
Aside from being a marketing tool, gamification is also becoming increasingly prevalent in our education space as it is linked to improvements in motivation, behaviours and cognitive learning.
A vital part of gamification is having that element of competition — be it against others or yourself. Having challenges to overcome will provide students with healthy levels of competitiveness, thereby motivating them to learn and digest more information.
Studies have shown that gamification is able to induce the release of neurotransmitters (such as serotonin, dopamine, endorphins and oxytocin). All of which will provide students with a natural high, allowing them to associate learning with pleasure and positive results. This may result in them having a lasting affinity for the subject and naturally, their demeanours in class will improve.
Game-based learning has become a more effective means of learning as compared to traditional methods. According to studies, it is able to elevate students’ self-confidence, memory retention and improve their productivity by three-fold!
Types of gamification
It is more than just Kahoot!. Gamification is often expressed in three ways: visual enhancement, accessory and integration.
1. Visual Enhancement: This is a cosmetic type of gamification that includes the adding of game visuals and design elements, such as a ‘skills tree’.
The cosmetic type of gamification is typically where you would add game visuals and design elements to make your curriculum come to life. This could be accomplished in the form of a simple visual roadmap or a ‘skills tree’ showcasing the various skills and achievements students can gain along the way. While the content of the program will remain the same, the new visuals can help motivate learners as they get a visual representation of their journey.
2. Accessory: Gamification as an accessory is where we start to implement a system of accomplishing milestones and receiving rewards to mark progress.
Gamification as an accessory is where we start to implement a system of accomplishing milestones and receiving rewards to mark progress. This can be done in the form of badges, points, or leaderboards. Implementing this strategy changes little about the actual curriculum in place, but just adjusts the structure a bit, breaking it down into smaller and more achievable bits. This will give students a proud sense of accomplishment when they reach the milestone.
3. Integration: This form of gamification refers to the full incorporation of gaming mechanics into learning.
Integrated applications of gamification is where gaming mechanics become an integral part of learning. Instead of just having additional features, we can find ways to incorporate game elements to create a more balanced experience. In some instances, the learning process itself can be designed to be an entire game whereby students will be aware that they are learning through play.
Now that we have discussed the types of gamification, let’s dive into some gamification tactics that you can easily weave into your classroom lessons to spice them up!
1. Reinventing classic games for classroom use
Scrabble, puzzles, Bingo and scavenger hunts. With a bit of creativity, these timeless classics can be adapted for classroom use. For example, you can send your students on a scavenger hunt during their Geography lessons. Utilising the ‘missions’ system, you can then task them to explore the school compound and collect various leaves and sediments relevant to the lesson. The possibilities are basically endless!
2. Using digital platforms
Everyone loves a good game of Kahoot!. Its elements of competition, drama coupled with the time pressure makes it such a fun game to play! However, there are plenty of other applications out there that can be just as engaging as Kahoot!
Here is a list:
Unlike Kahoot where user customisation is limited, Gimkit allows teachers to have complete freedom over the design of educational games! Be it multiple choice questions, fill in the blanks or open ended questions, Gimkit has it all! There are also a multitude of different gaming modes available. Certain modes even allow students to earn ‘power-ups’ and ‘XP’, making their educational experience more enjoyable.
This popular study application is known for its incorporation of flashcards, a great memory retention tool. Educators can design the questions and answers to cater to the curriculum and learning outcomes. Using the ‘Learn’ mode, students can then repeatedly test their knowledge and check their answers by easily ‘flipping’ the flashcards, allowing them to digest the information at a faster rate in a fun manner!
In my opinion, this creation platform surpasses Canva in many ways! Bold claim, I know. However, Genielly is specifically designed to cater to the needs of educators and students alike. The sheer number of creative options available means that there is always something to engage almost any student! For instance, you can include an interesting infographic on your slides and then have students analyse and annotate on it using Genielly’s interactive learning tools. The platform truly encourages the development of creativity, design thinking, and problem-solving skills, and teachers can adapt to deliver content in compelling ways! Not only that, there are also tutorials available on site for those starting out, making it very user friendly!
If you want to feel inspired, this Facebook community is just the right place! SG Learning Designers Circle is home to a community of primary and secondary school teachers who are passionate about gamifying their lessons. Members often share their proudest works from various platforms with one another on top of providing constructive feedback so that they all can grow together. The community is open to all newbies so feel free to join the group with your MOE email account!
3. Building a Quest from the ground up
A quest is basically a long-term mission with objectives and adventurous elements. A good example would be the Quest programme in the Singapore American School! Juniors and seniors alike would have the opportunity to create their own project and personalise their academic journey instead of just attending classes. Through quests, they get to develop interpersonal skills as the students will have to work with corporate partners and engage with their community as part of their learning objective of establishing real-world connections in addition to exploring their interests. Sounds like embarking on a quest throughout the semester sure beats weighted assignments!
Beyond fun and games, gamified learning is transformative and able to reap enormous benefits. Hopefully, this article laid the foundations of gamified learning for you and perhaps, you even learnt a thing or two that you can consider including during lesson times. Only then can we make learning great again for our future generations of budding leaders!
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