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Max SavoninMax SavoninChief Executive Officer at KeenEthics

Gamification and Simulation Learning Software: Benefits, Risks, Examples

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

gamification

What Is Gamification? 

Gamification is a learning approach, which incorporates game elements, techniques, and thinking strategies into the educational process. It provides a learner with the opportunity to take a training course as if it were a game. 

There are two types of gamification:

  • structural gamification,

  • content gamification.

Structural gamification means that the content of the training course does not undergo changes, only the structure around it does. By contrast, content gamification presumes that both content and structure are game-like.

An app that is used to learn traffic laws before driving test is the example of structural gamification. The content of it comprises actual traffic laws, while the structure is organized as a quiz.

Meanwhile, a foreign language learning tool for young kids where they discover new language as a story along with a non-player character is the example of content gamification in education. Both content and structure differ from a traditional programming course.

The common elements of gamification in education are:

  • 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

What Is Simulation Software?

Simulation is a game-based learning approach, which recreates real-life scenarios by animating or re-enacting them. It makes a learner able to get a real touch of the studied subject without being able to break anything or hurt anyone. 

Simulations involve such gamification concepts as:

  • Freedom to make mistakes

  • Practice and repetition

  • Collection of achievements and awards

Simulations model a certain segment of the reality (an activity, a community, or a phenomenon), which is essential to the learning problem. These models have to copy the reality to the tiniest details.

Unlike games, simulations must include such elements as:

  • Realistic tasks organized step-by-step 

  • Multiple feasible outcomes

  • Technical accuracy and high fidelity

What Are the Benefits?

benefits of gamification

Modernizing schools

Gamification and simulation give educators an opportunity to bring fun into a traditional classroom. And not only fun! AR/VR solutions, AI tools, and other innovative techniques are to follow. The age of boring and monotonous “drill and test” routine is over. The school that does not want to change its approach to teaching is bound to lose the competition in terms of both student admission and performance.

Advancing corporate training

Games and simulations work not only in school settings. Simulation and gamification platforms can also be an important part of corporate training. Such gamified learning tools can be employed in healthcare or manufacturing, where there is absolutely no place for errors. They can be used in the hospitality and restaurant industry not to spoil the customer experience with trainees’ mistakes. More than that, simulations can be used as reference material for fitness coaches.

Improving attention and memory

The idea of gamification and simulation is to keep learners psychologically aroused. When a person is alert, excited, or stressed, their brain can easier store new memories. At the same time, if people experience positive emotions about what they do, it is easier for them to stay focused and to spend more time learning without getting distracted. Therefore, games improve attention span and memory by about 30 percent, as the research by BBC Horizon proves. More than that, gamification and simulation visualize data, and visual information is easier to memorize than audial information – according to the research by the National Academy of Sciences.

Challenging skills and knowledge

People quickly get tired of simple monotonous tasks. By challenging people to do a difficult but achievable task, you keep them motivated and engaged. Gamification of education makes the challenging system simple – each level is a small challenge to take. Games and simulations challenge learners to solve problems and make decisions, which stimulates their intellect. At the same time, such apps give them an opportunity to make mistakes without actually hurting anyone or anything.

Letting students set their own pace

Each student inevitably has different background knowledge and acquires new material at a different pace. Making a group of students study altogether is ineffective because some of them will feel bored, while others will fall behind. The frontrunners will lose motivation to keep on learning. Meanwhile, weaker students will feel pressured, and high learning pressure translates into lowered academic performance, according to a study published in Canadian Social Science. By employing gamification and simulation, you let each student learn at their own pace.

Saving time, costs, and effort

Developing a gamified learning app or simulation for one learner is not cost-efficient at all. However, developing 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. It means that you significantly save on time, costs, and effort to prepare and conduct the course regularly.

What Are the Risks?

gamification risks

Over-gamifying 

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

Forcing everyone into games

You cannot expect that each student or trainee will enjoy gamification or simulation. There are people who treat learning seriously. Making them play instead will make them dissatisfied, confused, or skeptical.

Over-focusing on fun 

While focusing on making the course playful and fun, you should not forget about the purpose you pursue. Gamification and simulation are the means to achieve the learning goal, not the goal itself.

Neglecting assessment  

You have to monitor the performance and productivity of your students. By forgetting about regular outcome assessment while pursuing other gamification techniques, you risk failing the essential purpose of learning and training.

What Are the Examples?

Gamification is much closer than you think. Think about it, frequent flyer miles or lotteries – they are game elements, aren’t they? 

You surely have heard about Duolingo or Busuu. Let me show you some other examples of simulation and gamification apps, which you have not heard about. 

image6

Quiz your English is an app for studying English vocabulary and grammar through taking quizzes and competing with learners from all over the world. It is suitable for learners who already know English at B1–C1 level. This app is available for both Android and iOS.

fluentu

FluentU is a gamification platform, an app that helps users advance their vocabulary in any foreign language by playing with flashcards. The application available both on Android and iOS for individual students and for schools.

Such an app is actually quite easy to develop. One of our developers tells about his experience with it in one of our latest KeenEthics Experience-Sharing articles.

coding

Let’s Start Coding is a desktop app for children to learn to program. It is one of the gamification solutions we have developed. Together with gamified software, the learning process is designed to involve some hardware kits shaped as cars, rockets, pianos, or speakers. It lets children and their parents personalize their learning path and reach the highest results. Check the reviews to make sure.


Talking about simulation, the examples of business simulation software for education are harder to find because simulations are harder to develop than gamified apps. Nonetheless, there are plenty of vivid examples.

dental

Dental Simulator is one of the best simulation software I have ever encountered. This app introduces an entirely new approach to learning dentistry. Available for both iOS and Android, the app is now available only for individual users. Yet, the university version is coming soon.

cosmic watch

Cosmic Watch is an Android and iOS learning simulation app, which lets users study 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, which teaches users 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 software for education is now available.

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

Learn more about education software services that we offer and associated challenges that we solve.


To Wrap Up

Nobody can decide for you whether to employ gamification techniques in your school learning or corporate training process. You know what they say: “take a pen and write down a list of pros and cons”. Let me remind you of some advantages I suggested earlier:

  • Modernizing schools

  • Advancing corporate training

  • Improving attention and memory

  • Challenging skills and knowledge

  • Letting students set their own pace

  • Saving time, costs, and effort

Yet, do not forget about potential risks. Careful project planning will help you avert them.

  • Over-gamifying 

  • Forcing everyone into games

  • Over-focusing on fun 

  • Neglecting assessment 

Does it seem like a venture worth undertaking?