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Gamification in Education: Benefits, Risks, Examples

Modernizing schools and advancing corporate training with simple but innovative software solutions

Gamification in Education: Benefits, Risks, Examples

Gamification in education is a promising technique enabling learners to achieve fantastic results. However, if you apply and experiment excessively with it because it’s trendy, you won’t get the desired results. Gamification can be helpful in some contexts and not so much in others. It should be designed carefully to suit your business and audience goals. 

So, in this blog post, we’ll explore the very concept of gamification in education, its elements and application, pros, cons, risks, and several approaches to gamified learning implementation.

Gamification in Education

“Gamification.” It sounds rather fashionable, right? For years, “gamification” has been used extensively in the education and learning sector. Have you ever thought about gamification software for education, if it affects education, and if so, how exactly?

Gamification in education is a developing approach to incorporating game design elements, gaming techniques, and thinking strategies in educational environments to boost learners’ motivation and engagement. Considering the growing popularity of the concept and yet mixed opinions of its usage in educational contexts, we’ll try to shed a more realistic light on what gamification is in education.

The idea isn’t new, but the term “gamification” didn’t enter mainstream vocabulary until 2010. Only in 2011 gamification as a term became a viable trend. However, many have considered it inefficient as a tool. Some considered gamification to be only a tool for reward or punishment, and some introduced the idea that games in education shouldn’t serve as an external tool to motivate learners. We also hear that games create unfair competition. Although these criticisms deserve attention, we believe that this is due to other factors, like the bad design of games or irrelevant use.

If this question interests you, and you still haven’t read our article about mobile learning as the 2021 ‘must have’ for edtech, you’re welcome.

While there are thousands of different ways to achieve gamification, how you apply them determines the strategy you take.

There are two types of gamification in education:

  • structural gamification,
  • content gamification.

Structural gamification means the content doesn’t undergo changes. Only the structure around it does. The primary focus behind this type of gamification is to stimulate the learner to read the content and engage them in learning through reward systems. By contrast, content gamification presumes both content and structure are game-like. 

An app used to learn traffic laws before a driving test is an example of structural gamification. The app’s content comprises existing traffic laws, while the structure is organized as a quiz.

Meanwhile, there also are examples of content gamification in educational contexts. For instance, a language learning tool for young kids where they discover a new language as a story. Both content and structure differ from a traditional programming course.

The common elements of educational games include:

  • On-boarding
  • Game levels
  • Badges and point-based rewards
  • Leaderboards
  • Timers
  • Signposts and hints
  • Progress bar or a limited number of steps
  • Community interactions
  • Story plot
  • Theme
  • Non-player characters and a player character
  • Mystery boxes or other surprising elements

Which gamification should you choose? 

Indeed, there’s no wrong option because both types of gamification are widespread and integrated into different industries and positions.

Let’s present you some tips to help you choose the particular type of gamification:

1. Access the relevance of current content

If your audience isn’t engaged in the educational process or doesn’t enjoy their present experience, you should look through how you deliver your content to the learners. If the material or tasks seem complex or dull, you might improve it by adding simple game elements like badges, leaderboards, or complete overhauling of the material.

2. Look at your audience’s needs

To increase their engagement in content, we suggest tailoring content to their preferences. If the target audience is young, you can use less text and organize content in another form.

3. Determine the complexity of tasks

It’s unnecessary to change all content. On the contrary, in some cases, changing, shortening, or simplifying existing text is too risky. The conclusion is that you can skip or change material that is clearly understandable or already known to the users.

Advantages of Gamification of Education

Advantages of Gamification of Education

Why use gamification in education? Here go the main benefits of gamification in education.

Better level of engagement

The gamification of education offers its capacity to engage learners more effectively than in traditional classes. Gamification generates challenges, assists in tracking users’ progress and performance, identifies learners’ achievements, promotes focus on learning, and engages learners as they gradually progress from easy to more challenging lessons.

Instant feedback and support

Gamification education apps allow learners to get quick feedback on their answers. They can view, analyze, and correct their answers instantly. Thanks to gamification education software, students never have to wait for their performance results and assume if they should improve something.

Getting students hooked on learning

The effects of gamification in education are positive rather than negative. Leaderboards, timers, awards, and other game-like components cause dopamine release in the brain, making the educational process far more addicting. Students are more likely to become hooked on learning and constantly acquiring new skills if they see immediate and positive outcomes on their progress.

Modernizing schools

Gamification and simulation allow educators to bring fun into a traditional classroom. And not only fun! AR/VR solutions, AI tools, and other innovative techniques are to follow. The time of the boring and monotonous “drill and test” routine is over. The school that doesn’t want to change its approach to teaching is bound to lose the competition: student admission and performance drop.

Advancing corporate training

Games and simulations work not only in school settings. Simulation and gamification websites can also be an important part of corporate training. People use gamified learning tools in healthcare or manufacturing. These are the fields that leave no place for errors. Professionals working in the hospitality and restaurant industry also use these tools. They don’t want to spoil the customer experience with trainees’ mistakes. Moreover, fitness coaches can use simulation software for education as reference material.

Improving attention and memory

The idea behind gamification and simulation is to keep learners aroused. When a person is alert, excited, or stressed, their brain can easily store new memories. And if people experience positive emotions, it’s doubly easier for them to stay focused. They spend more time learning without getting distracted. Games improve attention span and memory by about 30 percent. Moreover, gamification and simulation visualize data. Visual data, in turn, is easier to memorize than audial information.

Challenging skills and knowledge

People get tired of simple monotonous tasks. Challenging learners to do a difficult but achievable task. It will keep their motivation in learning on a high level. Educational technology tools make the challenging system simple. Each level is a small challenge to take. Games and simulations challenge users to solve problems and make decisions. They stimulate an intellect of a learner. At the same time, these apps allow for mistakes without consequences.

Letting students set their own pace

Each student has a different background knowledge. They memorize new material at a different pace. Making a group of students study in the same way is ineffective. Some of them will feel bored, while others will fall behind. As a result, frontrunners will lose motivation to keep on learning. Weaker students will feel pressured. And being under constant pressure, in turn, translates into lowered academic performance. Is gamification effective in teaching? Yes, with gamification and simulation, you let each student learn at their own pace.

Saving time, costs, and effort

Developing a gamification education app or simulation for one learner is not cost-efficient at all. Yet, creating it for a school or an organization is an investment that will pay off soon. By buying a ready-made solution for school/corporate training or developing a custom one, you automate or at least augment an entire learning course. You save on time, costs, and effort when preparing and conducting the course.

Disadvantages of Gamification in Education

There are times when gamification in the educational process doesn’t work well.

Let’s take a look at the disadvantages of gamification in education.

Overstimulation or addiction

When students are persistent in completing a particular level in a game, they might poorly manage their time. As a result, it may distract students from the primary purpose of gamified learning.

Game Logistics

Before setting up the game for your course, you should reconsider planning and logistics and set some questions related to gaming.

You’ll have to determine if students can complete gamified learning at home or only in class. Will students be charged an additional fee if they use the game outside of class? Are there enough computers for students?

Finally, to fully understand the game and its purpose, you’ll need to devote much time to playing the game yourself from beginning to end. 

Expensive to devise gamification education apps

Game development takes much time, money, and additional resources to enhance the gaming process. To create and design your educational app, you’ll have to decide on animations, graphics, images, music, sound effects, etc. It’s not only costly to develop the games but also to maintain them. With time, games can become outdated for the users and not satisfy the users’ present demands. Therefore, it’s required to renew game content and design regularly.

The low attention span of learners

Today, young people are used to instant rewards, and turning learning into a game-like scenario may lower students’ attention span. 

And What About the Risks of Gamification in Learning?

And now, it’s high time to check the risks of gamification in learning and education.

Risks of Gamification in Learning

Over-gamifying 

If you gamify everything, you risk losing learning results. Educators should deliver different aspects of learning via different methodologies. Along with gamification in education, there are classroom instruction, webinars, and e-learning courses.

Forcing everyone into games

You can’t expect that each student or trainee will enjoy gamification. There are people treating learning seriously. Making them play instead will result in adverse learning experiences. Students may feel dissatisfied, confused, or skeptical.

Over-focusing on fun 

While focusing on making your course fun, don’t forget about the purpose you pursue. Gamification and simulation help you achieve the learning goal. They aren’t the goal themselves.

Neglecting assessment  

You have to track the performance and productivity of your students. Don’t forget about regular outcome assessment while pursuing other gamification techniques. Otherwise, you risk failing the essential purpose of learning and training.

Gamification Learning Techniques

We’re intrinsically motivated to achieve the desired result or avoid a negative one when performing the activity. There are many different approaches to making gamification genuinely motivating for learners.

Rely on psychological needs 

Self-determination theory suggests promoting three psychological needs through game mechanics. 

Research suggests that games are fun and motivating to the extent that the learners experience three needs: autonomy,  competence, and relatedness. 

Autonomy stands for choices people make and the reasons why they make them. It’s high when a person engages in an activity, not for reward or punishment, but because they like it.

Competence refers to the chance to be challenged adequately. This occurs when a task matches learners’ skill level. People remain intrinsically motivated when the challenge isn’t too easy and complicated. 

Relatedness refers to our communication and the need to have close personal relationships.

Establish “flow”

It’s critical to strike a balance between the levels of complexity when making a game. When the game is too simple, the student will lose interest, and when the game is too complicated, the learner will feel nothing but disappointment. The golden balance is a task should be challenging, enjoyable, yet achievable for the user. When learners are in a “flow state,” they experience intense and focused concentration. To reach or encourage this state of flow, the learners need the following: a clear goal behind the activity, clear progress, immediate feedback to be aware of how they’re going on, and a balance of challenge and skill.

Follow elements of games

Good games incorporate four critical things:

  • Goals
  • Rules
  • Challenge/conflict
  • Feedback 

Completion of a task

People usually tend to finish the assignment. When the task is uncompleted, the commitment to completion is a strong mechanism stimulating people to take action. In this way, to promote specific behavior, you can create a note for the user. When a person reads the notice “your task is 35%/85% complete”, it clarifies how much work still has to be done.

Create reasonable challenges

Small and simple tasks are excellent for motivating people to perform them. Consider challenges like “Invite 10 friends and receive a 10% discount on your next purchase” or “Send this message to your friends and get the first 200 likes for your page”. Users will play till the end to see the outcome; therefore, small challenges can be appealing.

Making people curious

You can make a task sequence to engage learners in playing educational apps. By indicating “this is challenge 3 of 7”, the learner will know when the specific level or story ends.

Let users not only compete but collaborate

Teamwork is just as effective as competition. When you make users work together, it’s a great method to improve team building and communication.

Gamification Strategies in Education

There are various gamification strategies you can integrate into your gamified learning environment. 

To implement gamified learning in your company, you should first decide on the educational goals of the course and the information you want your employees to learn. It will assist you in efficiently creating a gamified course.

Point-based systems

You can assign progress indicators, like points for accomplishing particular tasks. This method has a chance to motivate students and encourage them to work hard to achieve the best results. They’ll also feel competitive with their peers and will strive to keep pace with them throughout the course. Furthermore, points can present a fair evaluation of the student’s progress in learning.

Badges 

Badges are another practical approach to give students recognition for their efforts. By giving badges, you can demonstrate your attitude towards them and the way you value their hard work.

Challenges

By applying challenges in the educational process, students can try their ability to think critically. Challenges motivate students to think outside the box and step outside their comfort zone. The benefit of this strategy is that it has no negative consequences if students make mistakes or fail.

Leaderboards

Every learner would be proud to see their name on the top of the board and consequently work harder.

Our Favorite Examples of Gamification in Learning

Our Favorite Examples of Gamification in Learning

Gamification in learning examples is much closer than you think. You surely have heard about Duolingo or Busuu. Let us show you some other examples of 

gamification learning examples for education you haven’t heard about. 

  • Brainable

Brainable is a perfect brain-training website challenging your working memory and showing you what your mind can do.

You might not have time to practice your cognitive skills after a long day at work or university. The only thing you want is rest. KeenEthics helped develop an excellent tool for self-improvement, allowing you to combine useful activity with enjoyment. With our app, you can simultaneously rest and exercise your brain, spending just 20 minutes per day. Are you interested? Welcome on board.

  • Quiz your English

Quiz your English is an app for studying English by taking quizzes. It’s suitable for learners who already know English at the A1–C1 level. This app is available for both Android and iOS.

  • Let’s Start Coding

Let’s Start Coding is a desktop app for children who want to learn to code. It’s one of the game-based learning solutions we have developed. Let’s Start Coding allows children and parents to personalize their learning path and reach the highest results. Check the reviews to make sure.

It may seem that the examples of business simulation software for education are harder to find. That’s because simulations are harder to develop compared to gamified apps. Nonetheless, there are plenty of vivid cases we’d like to share.

  • Dental Simulator 

Dental Simulator is one of the best simulation software we’ve ever seen. This app introduces an entirely new approach to learning dentistry. Available for both iOS and Android, the app is targeted only at individual users. Yet, the university version may come soon.

  • Cosmic Watch

Cosmic Watch is an Android and iOS learning simulation app letting users learn more about the Solar System. By simulating the celestial sphere, this app offers a unique insight into the extraterrestrial world.

  • Crazy Machines

Crazy Machines is a desktop simulation game for children and adults teaching the basics of physics. By moving around different elements and mechanisms, the user has to make a certain machine work. The third edition of this gamification training software is now available.

Let’s Sum It Up

Tech progress doesn’t stand still, allowing us to think over constant improvements and integrate them into education. We have to explore the benefits and disadvantages of gamification in education to understand its influence better. Gamification is an excellent approach if appropriately used. Enough studies present arguments for and against, and both sides deserve attention. Before developing the game, you should consider all pros and cons because when the game meets the learning objectives, it leads to successful results.

We hope that the pros and cons mentioned above will help you determine the relevance of game-based learning in education. We should use modern ways wisely via planning, assessing the prospects, and setting the appropriate objectives. 

You can always trust us with your ideas, and we’ll implement them using our expertise in the tech industry. Our developers have many years of experience in app development, and they’ll help you incorporate gamification into the learning process. Gamification holds a lot of potential to engage people worldwide in many fields, like full-fledged serious games, augmented reality, virtual reality, business, medicine, and more. Let’s make everything creative and beautiful with us.

Do you have an idea for an educational simulation or gamification platform?

Learn more about the quality education software services we offer and the challenges we solve. We hope that your discussion will help. If education software development seems like the right choice, get in touch with our team to discuss the next steps.

Alex Pletnov Max Savonin Chief Executive Officer at KeenEthics

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