Discover what gamification is and how to plan a gamified activity from the beginning and assess it in a formative way

Games are fun. We love to play with them, watch them and even be their creators. However, how can we as teachers bring elements of the game to our class in a meaningful way?

Gamification, or the use of games to aid students in learning, has become increasingly popular in classes around the world. With the introduction of more technology to students, and the massive rollout of devices like Chromebooks and tablets, teachers must work harder than ever to keep students focused and excited about learning. Teachers are now tasked with looking beyond simply lecturing students to find new and creative ways to share content with students.

Gamification is a learning technique that transfers the mechanics of games to the educational-professional field in order to achieve better learning results.

Its results are students who are more attentive in class, more motivated to learn, more participatory and involved with the subject and absorb the content. This new model helps them lose the fear of failing by putting low-level risks of failure: they do not fail an exam, but fail a test, a game or a dynamic.

Define learning objectives

Before implementing gamification, it is essential to define a learning objective and have these objectives defined in the planning of the teaching units. This allows you to have a clear goal and measure the result.

1. Learning objectives help students understand concepts and develop skills.

2. Behavioral goals involve helping students focus and work efficiently.

Gamifying a class involves adapting various game elements such as a points system, incentives and rewards, use of avatars, a game narrative, challenges and missions that keep the student interested in the game and provide quality feedback on an ongoing basis, among others. .

In short, the first step is to place the participants in a game context, define rules, establish objectives.

Good questions to ask yourself for the first steps:

Is the game appropriate for the age level that I teach?

Will my students be able to understand the rules of the game?

Can the game be played within the time I have scheduled?

What materials do I need to make this game work?

Once I have selected the game that we consider appropriate for my students, my next task is to learn about the material within the game.

Narrative and storytelling

Many beginners who are new to gamification forget to work on narrative and storytelling in a curated way. Simply by adding points, badges or levels in your activity, we do not ensure that your students are hooked on the content and understand the flow to which the learning of the activity should take them.

To get started, try including a paragraph with each assignment that tells a little story. Expand the idea to create a theme or story for an entire unit. Slightly redesign the activities so they are presented in the context of the story. The story can be a complete fantasy, a modification of a real world context or an adaptation of the latest Netflix series or a cult movie.

The great teacher, Alice Keeler had this to say: In addition to adding to the fun of the activity, having a story can provide context for student learning. When I used the Angry Birds game to teach my students about x-intercepts in math, no student asked me, “Why do we need to learn this?” Even a fantasy context can give students a purpose for their learning.

Detect the “pain points” that bore your students:

To show the activity in the way that best engages with your students it is important to detect where they lose interest during the lesson. If they get bored with powerpoints add interactivity or create a quiz on Edquizz.

Just as marketers examine their target markets before gamifying their products, as a teacher I can survey my class to determine the best ways to engage them.

Apply gamification elements in my “dynamic” classes
The PBL triad in gamification

In gamification there are elements that are more common than others because they tend to generate higher engagement rates for students with better results.

The following three elements make up the PBL triad, which is made up of points, badges (trophies / plaques) and leaderboards (results tables).

To say that a system gamified with the PBL triad is going to be successful is far from the truth, as this is only a small part of the complete system. As we’ve mentioned before, defining goals, narrative, understanding context, and pain points are just as important.

We will explain the three elements that make up the PBL triad in more detail to try to understand the function of each of them.

Points

-They are the way to determine how well we are doing in the game.

-Points serve to determine the winning states within the gamified system.

-May be associated with rewards.

-Generate feedback from the system to the student.

-Points are a way of showing the progress of a student (they show the student the process they are following while absorbing the content and skills).

-They offer information for the creator of the gamified system. We will be able to see how many points each user is earning, where or how fast they are doing it. This is important to improve the game.

Badges

– They are the representations of the achievements, they represent a visual identification of those who have managed to reach a certain level within the system.

– They denote importance in the actions of the users. The fact of getting a badge implies achieving an objective within the game, with which it reaffirms to the user that they have achieved something important and reaffirms that they are achieving the objectives in the right direction.

– They serve as credentials, as it shows anyone who is looking, the achievements we have achieved within the system.

-The badges can be associated with collections. When your missing badges are shown on screens, it usually induces extra motivation to get the badges that you need to get to have the complete collection.

Results tables / Rankings:

-They serve to show the ranking of each user within the system. It is an element of direct feedback for users. In the same way that there are rankings and positions in the Olympic games that motivate athletes, this system has the same motivating factor in students.

-Since there are different types of users within each of the gamified systems, it is usually not optimal to compare the score of a novice user with an expert user, as it may imply that the novice user is demotivated. For this, personalized Leaderboards are usually used, in which we can be compared with groups related to us, same school level, work group …

Other techniques

Other gamification techniques such as rewards, progress bar, challenges, and avatar generation have been used successfully with other gamification techniques mentioned above.

Most notable benefits of applying gamification:

– Autonomy of the students. It encourages students, once accustomed to the system and the mechanics of the class, to function in a more autonomous way, learning to set their own rhythms.

-Multitasking mentality. Students develop the ability to be working on different lines and tasks at the same time, which is very positive for their development and progress.

-Teamwork. If in the design of the activity it is necessary to encourage cooperation between one and the other to be essential to reach certain goals, the students often learn to ask for help, or even to provide help without expecting anything in return.

Potential negative things to watch out for

In some circumstances, there is a danger of penalizing values training because of excessive competitiveness.

The balance between the recreational and the educational is very difficult to achieve, and if the activity loses its educational character, it will be unproductive.

Motivation based exclusively on obtaining prizes is diminished once it is no longer something new.

How to formatively evaluate a gamified activity

On many occasions we see that gamification activities become contests where students obtain a numerical grade that does not guide the students towards where to improve their learning. For this reason, the quiz creation tool Additio, named Edquizz focused on a formative correction, being able to correct the activities through rubrics, guiding the students towards an improvement in their learning.

Formative correction and the difference between quality and non-quality feedback

At the same time, it allows the answers to the quizzes to provide quality feedback. Previously we emphasized “quality feedback”, saying “Very good, fair or bad” are not comments that indicate to the students where to improve. On the other hand, if we take advantage of the “feedback / observations” field to give the pertinent indications to improve, it will be a formative evaluation that will provide the students of the guide to improve exponentially.

App quizzes y exámenes

Edquizz for gamified activities:

1. Creation of instructions and defined objectives

2. Alignment with learning objectives and competencies

3. Correction tool and learning analytics

Learning analytics in Edquizz:

Once you create a quiz in Edquizz, as the students complete the answers, a learning analytics screen is created that allows you to see the gamified quiz questions that have had better results and those with the highest number of incorrect results. form that the teacher based on the analytics to know what contents require more explanation, put more emphasis or explain to a particular student.

Herramienta cuestionarios y actividades

Finally, if you want to expand your knowledge about gamification, we share some Twitter accounts about gamification that we recommend following:

1.Gabe Zichermann

2. Rob Alvarez

3. Karl Kapp

4. Yu-kai Chou 

5. Monica Cornetti

We hope that the article has helped you to make gamified didactic units and that they are focused on the development of your students.