Here at 3P Learning we are extremely lucky to witness children as they become captivated by their learning experiences every single day. One of the core concepts that we use in our resources to help assist teachers to engage their students is the gamification of learning. It’s likely this is an idea that you’re familiar with, however, if you’ve ever wanted to learn a little more about this concept, you’ve come to the right place! This is the first in a four-part blog series, taken from our popular Gamification of Learning eBook, which covers everything you need to know about the gamification of learning and how to use it in your classroom.

This week we’ll discuss the core concept of the gamification of learning and breakdown the classic game monopoly to analyse the various elements that make up a gamified environment.

Exploring Gamification

Games and playing games are as old as civilisation itself and at some stage in life, be it adult or child, we have all played games. Whether this is playing football in the park, a board game at home or simple word games on a long journey, playing games is part of what makes us human. The ‘gamification’ of learning allows us to take the concepts of games, with the associated fun and enjoyment and combine this with the instruction, practice and feedback that is necessary for effective learning to occur. Gamification results in learners becoming more engaged and, importantly, heightens their enjoyment of the learning process.

Crucially, when students are engaged and enjoying the learning process, they are typically able to focus on a learning task for longer, and are likely to demonstrate improved retention of the content they are attempting to master.

Harnessing the excitement and fun of games to aid learning is the fundamental concept behind the gamification of learning. This involves incorporating and integrating game elements within the learning environment to maximise the enjoyment and engagement that learners experience through playing games in order to support specific learning objectives.

Primary child learning game - UK-minGamification of learning often goes hand-in-hand with eLearning. However, there is no reason why the elements of gamification cannot be brought into a more traditional classroom environment. When gamification is effectively integrated into the learning environment it should:

  • Capture learners’ attention;
  • Challenge them;
  • Engage and entertain them;
  • Teach them.

Game Elements

You will have almost certainly experienced gamification outside of a normal gaming environment. This could be reward points on a supermarket loyalty card, scaffolded targets on a fitness app or even frequent flyer miles on a credit card. Gamification can prove extremely effective in various areas of life to build in an element of fun and reward.

Breaking down and analysing the elements of an existing game is a good way to help introduce the elements of gamification. The classic board game Monopoly, where players compete to ‘monopolise’ the properties on the board, has a number of gaming elements that make up the game mechanics. There are clear rules and the element of competition is introduced as players move around the board and attempt to amass properties. There is also an element of co-operation as players can barter for properties or lend money. There are points in the form of money and game pieces such as the car, top hat and battleship that act as a form of ‘avatar’ to represent each player within the game. Levels are represented by the houses and hotels that can be built on properties and the elements of risk and chance are created with the dice and randomly selected cards. There are also clear objectives for players to work toward in the form of collecting money, buying properties, building houses and hotels, and ultimately dominating the board. It is not necessary to have all of these elements built into a game, although all games contain some combination of these elements.

Every game uses game elements differently, and our Monopoly example was not an exhaustive list – why not involve your class in the process of gamifying the learning environment by asking them to create a list of the elements that they think make up a game? Next week we’ll discuss the difference between content and structural gamification, and shed some light on the options that educators have when integrating gamification into their unique classroom environment.

Read PART 2 of the mini-series now.

Don’t want to wait until next week? Download the full Gamification of Learning eBook here.