Gamification & Game-Based Learning – Tools for Teachers​ (Part 2)

CLASSROM DIGITAL PEDAGOGY

Gamification & Game-Based Learning - Tools for Teachers (Part 2)

Introduction

We are going to continue our exploration of Gamification and Game-Based Learning (GBL) activities that you can use in the classroom. Our first article in this collection discussed 4 SMART Learning Suite GBL Activities (Fill in the Blanks, Game Show, Match Em Up & Monster Quiz) and how they can be used in the classroom. As there are currently a total of 11 activities in the SMART Learning Suite, we will explore the remaining 7 in this article and unpack how they can be used to engage students in assessment tasks but also provide teachers with powerful data that can inform your future directions for the learning in your classroom.

Game-Based Learning activities are highly engaging and entertaining for all ages, getting people actively engaging with each other, negotiating, planning, critically-thinking, analysing, and most of all strategizing, all very powerful learning skills. The added benefit of GBL activities in the classroom is that with the students engaged with the task and the learning, classroom management becomes a non-issue, with even the most challenging students disconnecting themselves from their regular behavioral patterns and focusing on the learning. With that in mind, I encourage all teachers, whether you have used GBL in the classroom before or not, to seriously consider incorporating GBL into the regular planning of your classes, because if done effectively, and with the right tools, you will not only see a huge improvement in the student’s engagement in your class, but you will also see improvement in the students learning outcomes. So, we will continue exploring the GBL tools available in the SMART Learning Suite with the intent to give you enough of an overview so that you can make the informed decision as to whether these tools are the right ones that will help you achieve the learning intentions that you are working towards.

Like the games that we discussed in the last article, these SMART GBL Activities can be accessed either at the SMART Board or on the student devices by connecting to your digital classroom through the hellosmart.com internet portal.

Game 5 - Flip Out

Flip Out is a great game for students to improve their recall, vocabulary, and one-to-one correspondence skills. This game allows students to see cards on the screen that can have words or pictures on them. They then identify associations to those terms/images and then click the card to reveal the answers. A fantastic tool for assessment revision, or for learning associations between symbols/images and names, or words between different languages, the use for the Flip Out game can be endless. As you can see in this example, I have created a game that students use to recognise the different symbols and notes used in music, designed so they can learn their correct names. The other added benefit is that it provides the students with an opportunity to self-reflect and assess their understanding and identify weaknesses that need future improvement.

The game wizard makes building this game quick and easy. Add images or text to each column, choose your theme and then publish the game – it’s that simple. You will have no problems building and delivering this game to the students in your class and you may even find that it becomes a staple resource to use for developing this element of your students’ learning.

Game 6 - Label Reveal

Much like Flip Out, Label Reveal is designed to help students with recall, memory, and deduction by having them name different parts of an image. Whereas Flip Out has images or text on a card that is turned over, Label Reveal has teachers identify different elements of an image that they want students to identify and then click on the areas to reveal those names. The added benefit is that not only does this game allow students to identify names, but teachers can also include short descriptions. Students engage with the task by clicking on the “?” to reveal the label. If a description has been added to the label a “+” will appear which can be revealed as a second stage to the action. Perfect for students who need to learn components of a whole and summarise what those elements do, this interactive recall game can induce student’s self-assessment and reflective actions which can foster positive growth.

If you have access to a digital image/photo you can easily upload it to the game and add labels and descriptions. Using the game building wizard, you can quickly and easily upload an image and then start adding in labels and their descriptions. You have a total of 10 labels that you can add to any image and you control where you place the descriptions by dragging them around the window – a fantastic tool to help with any content area at any year level.

Game 7 - Rank Order

Do you have a lesson where students are required to learn a sequence? Rank Order is a great game that allows students to develop skills in education, comparison, and sequencing. With a variety of different fun themes, students can use Rank Order to explore their learning around sequences in the coursework. The added bonus to this game is that you can trigger Metacognitive Strategies using feedback. The game building wizard gives you the opportunity to choose when in the gameplay students receive feedback. If they receive the feedback instantly, wrong answers will shoot out of the “answer zone” and back into the “option pool”. This action will have students thinking about why their choice was wrong and then using what they learn from that instant feedback to inform how they move forward with the learning task. However, if you choose to have the feedback shown at the end of the task, students can self-reflect upon the actions that they took while playing the game and then use that reflection to inform choices that they make when they make required adjustments to achieve the correct order. Either way, these Metacognitive Strategies can deepen the learning experience and help students evaluate the decision-making process they undertake when completing such a task.

Once again, the activity building wizard is a user-friendly tool that allows you to quickly add text or images in their correct order. Once this information has been input into the wizard, choose the point where students receive feedback (through the check answers section), choose the theme and you are good to go. Some themes, like the basketball theme will have animations that enhance the feedback when “instantly” is selected in the check answers section.

For example, when using the Basketball theme, when an answer is put in the correct location the shooter makes the basket, whereas when an incorrect answer is placed in the wrong location, the shooter misses the goal. This can be an effective way of softening a “blow” when students receive an incorrect answer, especially those who might need a little bit of support and nurturing when they are attempting assessments like this.

Game 8 - Memory Match

This fun game allows students to play solo or in pairs, and they are required to turn over cards to find matching pairs. The key difference is that you can personalise what are on the backs of each card for students to pair up. You can have students’ pair 2 of the same images, or pair an image with its name in text, or as you can see in the example I have provided, have students pair elements with the symbols that represent them on the periodic table.

A familiar activity building wizard for those who have used Match Em Up and Rank Order games, the wizard requires you to add text or images into a table and then match the correct answers up. There is no theme variation on this game, with the traditional animal cards being used, but it is a game that will surely get all students, regardless of their age-fighting to find all the pairs.

Game 9 & 10 - Speed Up, and Team Quiz

These two games are very similar, with just slight variations in the game play separating these two games. Like Game Show and Monster Quiz (that we covered in our last article), these two games are quiz-based tools that can be used as formative or summative assessment tasks in the classroom. The activity building wizard allows you to input true/false or multiple-choice answers with no limit as to how many you use. The major difference between these two games, other than their look is how they are played.

Speed Up has characters zooming around a track in a “car race” style game. Up to 4 people can play at a time and they have pods at the bottom of their screen that allows them to select the correct answer by pressing the A, B, C, D button as well as pressing the “zoom” button to give their character a power boost when driving between questions. The premise is that the person who answers correctly and the fastest gets more power boost for their character and crosses the finish line first.

A great game to play either at the board or on student devices, this game gets students focusing on the learning that has happened in the classroom, reflecting on their understanding, and making quick decisions. The interesting element of this game is the way in which feedback is issued.

If the students answer incorrectly their character ‘spins out’ which slows them down in the overall race. While there is no allocation for students to attempt the question again, like in other quiz-based games, it does provide a chance for reflection at the end of the game where the analysis of responses is provided. This is a great opportunity for teachers to unpack the process that students took when answering the questions.

Team Quiz is a game that is best played with student devices. Students are divided into groups and they work collaboratively to answer questions that colors in their team’s colored icon. The first team to successfully complete their colored icon, by answering all the questions correctly is awarded the win. The key benefit to this game is that students are working on their own devices to answer questions while being a part of a team.

The gameplay and the layout are pretty much the same as Monster Quiz, with the only difference being you are trying to color in your team icon instead of breaking your monster out of a crate/enclosure. 

Having said that, this is still a fantastic assessment tool that you can use for both formative and summative assessment tasks, and not only will it get students engaged in the assessment process, but it will also provide you with data that can be used for analysis for your future teaching.

Game 11 - Super Sport

The final game in our SMART GBL Activity collection is the Super Sort. A game that develops students’ understanding of classification, grouping, and logical thinking, this game sees students take elements (either text based or images) and sort them into groups. The interactive element of this game provides students with instant feedback that either reinforces their decisions or makes them think about the choice that they made and why it might be wrong. There are a variety of different themes to choose from which are all fun, with special mentions going out to the knight vs dragon and rock concert themes, but if I am honest, my favorite is the pirate theme – 2 ships firing cannons at each other, for correct answers, and cannons backfiring when the answers are incorrect.

Like Rank Order, Match Em Up, and Memory Match, the game builder is the familiar and user-friendly table-based tool where you can add images and/or pictures to the category table. This is then used to populate the answer options and provide feedback on correct and incorrect answers. A fantastic tool that students of all ages will find fun and engaging while providing them with valuable experience in applying their knowledge and feedback on how they are using it.

The 7 games that we have discussed in this article, coupled with the 4 we covered in the previous article can be accessed through the SMART Learning Suite Online platform as well as the SMART Notebook software. Students can engage either at the SMART Board at the front of the classroom or these games can be pushed to the student’s personal devices for personal or small group interaction. To explore these games, you can visit the link below and sign up for a free trial. Once your trial has expired, please reach out to us at the PAVE Academy or to our parent company Pro AV Solutions to explore how you and the teachers at your school can access a license for these games as well as the other amazing tools that are a part of the SMART Learning Suite platform.
In our next article, we will explore some other game-based tools that are not SMART related, that can be really powerful for your classroom. Stay tuned!

Questions that can drive your integration of Gamification and Game-Based Learning into the classroom and can spark professional discussions with your colleagues.

Q1

What am I doing in my current teaching practice that is the gamification of learning?

Q2

Can I use GBL tasks as formative assessment tools in my classroom?

Q3

How could I use one or all these 7 games in my classroom to increase student engagement and improve student learning outcomes?

Q4

How can I transform a current learning activity or project into a Game-Based Learning Task?

Q5

How can GBL help me plan and execute cross-curricular activities in my classroom?

References

SMART Learning Suite Online
SMART Technologies

Image References

Flip Out – these images were created from PAVE Academy activities

Label Reveal – these images were created from PAVE Academy activities

Rank Order – these images were created from PAVE Academy activities

Memory Match – these images were created from PAVE Academy activities

Speed Up – these images were created from PAVE Academy activities

Team Quiz – this image was taken as a screenshot from the display video within SLSO for the game

Super Sort – these images were created from PAVE Academy activities

Gamification & Game Based Learning – Tools for teachers

CLASSROM DIGITAL PEDAGOGY

Gamification & Game-Based Learning - Tools for Teachers

Introduction

Having developed an understanding of what Gamification and Game-Based Learning (GBL) means in our previous article, we are going to start to unpack a variety of different tools that teachers can use in their classroom and look at now only how you can use them, but also the pedagogical benefits that can help improve the students learning outcomes. In this article, we are going to start looking at the SMART Learning Suite and the first four tools in the collection of 11 Game-Based Activities that are embedded into that educational software platform. The SMART Learning suite is a fantastic educational software platform that is designed with educational pedagogy as its driving force. There is a huge suite of tools available in both the online (cloud-based) and notebook (downloadable) versions that can be utilised in the classroom to create a powerful, engaging learning environment, but in this article, we are going to focus on the Game-Based Learning and how they can be used by teachers across all ages to enhance the student learning outcomes. 

As a teacher, I worked for most of my career in a secondary school, and regardless of the year level I taught, from year 7 to year 12, all students loved it when we incorporated GBL into the classroom. Especially in the higher years of secondary education, students are quickly excited by the opportunity to step out of the routine, “serious” nature that is the VCE/HSC and experience their learning in what they perceive as a fun, non-academic focused way. Be this using games or even getting them to make a poster or something creative like a podcast or short film, students of all ages love to get involved in activity based, hands-on learning activities and if you are looking to inject a sense of fun, boost student engagement in your classroom while strengthening the learning and understanding of the content being delivered, GBL can be the right tool to help you achieve this. The SMART Learning Suite has created 11 GBL Activities that teachers from all year levels, from prep/foundation to year 12 can easily incorporate into the learning that occurs in their classroom.

Before we start to unpack the SMART Learning Suite GBL Activities, it is important to understand how these can be used in the classroom. While the SMART Learning Suite has been designed to work effectively with the SMART Board front of class interactive displays, there is a fantastic added benefit to this educational software platform. The SMART Learning Suite software has the capability for students to play these GBL Activities (as well as interact with other key elements of the software) directly on their personal devices. Connecting to the teacher’s digital classroom through the unique SMART Class ID, teachers can have students engage with the lessons, and specifically for this article the GBL Activities, through the hellosmart.com or classlab.com internet portals meaning that all the students can engage in these learning activities simultaneously. Now that we understand that we can start exploring the first 3 tools teachers can use in their classroom and how they can impact their pedagogical practice.

Game 1 - Fill in the blanks

Fill in the Blanks is a fantastic learning tool that allows teachers to easily write or paste a 300-character statement into the wizard, highlight or identify 10 words that will be marked as blanks, choose a theme, or look for the game and then publish it for students to engage with, at the SMART Board on their devices through the hellosmart.com classroom web portal. These words appear at the bottom of the screen and students can drag and drop their answers into the locations that they think are the best fit. Fill in the Blanks is a fantastic tool that focuses on the development of student’s deduction (the process of reaching a decision or answer by thinking about the known facts), composition, and memory. Also inbuilt into this tool is the element of feedback allowing you to choose how and when the student receives feedback (when prompted or instantly).

The variety of feedback delivery times can trigger metacognitive strategies at different times throughout the activity, which can impact the way in which the student develops their understanding of the topic being covered. Instant feedback will trigger the student to think about their thinking at the time that they put the answer into the phrase – why was that wrong and what do I need to change in my thinking before I make my next answer choice? This can be a very powerful tool for having students to self-assess their learning and the choices that they make during the process.

Moving the feedback to the end of the activity, students could conduct a self-assessment of the choices that they made and then adjust their choices before resubmission and reassessment. This can be a very powerful learning tool for students to learn from the choices they made and then think about the process that they undertake or implement to reach the correct answer. Overall, this GBL Activity can be a great formative assessment tool that students can access throughout their learning to demonstrate their understanding of the learning being undertaken.

Game 2 - Game Show

If you have been looking for ways to transform that end of unit multiple choice quiz into fun and interactive games, then look no further than SMARTS Game Show. This fantastic tool takes the multiple-choice quiz and embeds it into a fun traditional game show platform where students answer questions for points, spin the wheel to earn powerups, and even steam points from their opponents when questions are answered incorrectly. Played as either an entire class activity or in small group collaborative stations on their devices, students put their understanding of a topic to the test in this competitive and fun game show scenario.

The user-friendly game building wizard gives teachers the opportunity to choose between multiple-choice and true/false question types, type in questions, or copy/paste text from an existing word document and select the correct answer for instant correction. Adding as many questions as they like, teachers can also randomise the question order so you can use this assessment tool more than once. As either a whole class or small group collaborative activity, where students can discuss and negotiate answer within their teams before inputting them into the game interface. 

The user-friendly game building wizard gives teachers the opportunity to choose between multiple-choice and true/false question types, type in questions, or copy/paste text from an existing word document and select the correct answer for instant correction. Adding as many questions as they like, teachers can also randomise the question order so you can use this assessment tool more than once. As either a whole class or small group collaborative activity, where students can discuss and negotiate answer within their teams before inputting them into the game interface. This collaborative interaction gives students experience in the act of negotiation as well as developing communication skills like explanation and justification. The students also receive instant feedback from the Game Show host, triggering metacognitive strategies. In the event they answer the question correctly, it reinforces the process they implemented to choose the correct answer and in turn solidifies their learning, however when an incorrect answer is entered the opposition team has the chance to steal the points and the students could conduct a self-assessment as to why their answer was incorrect.

The review process also allows teachers to identify deficits in the student’s knowledge and use that data to reapproach ways in which they teach the content in the future. It can also be used as a teaching tool to help students identify errors that were made and to identify ways in which they can adjust their thinking for future learning activities. Used as either a formative or summative assessment tool, teachers can quickly and easily build and delivery this highly engaging and effective GBL Activity in their classroom.

Game 3 - Match Em Up

Have you been looking for ways to understand relationships between different elements of the coursework that you teach? Well, look no further than SMARTs March Em Up game. This is a fun way to get students to understand relationships between elements of their learning, be it periodic symbols and their names, animals and the sounds that they make, food and their dietary categories, anything that requires students to understand relationships can be taught using this game, a great way for students to explore one-on-one correspondence as well as developing their working memory.

The platform also provides you with a variety of different themes, from the knight fighting a fire breathing dragon, rock guitarists rocking out on stage to superheroes fighting a robot who is trying to take over the city, there are a variety of different themes that can create an exciting and engaging experience for your students.

What makes this Game Based Activity even more enticing is the ease at which it can be built. The game wizard provides you with 2 simple steps to building your game – the first is importing images or writing text into the table to identify which pairs go together, and the second is choosing your theme. From there you can easily connect your students to your hellosmart.com digital classroom and have them engage in this activity directly on their own personal devices

Game 4 - Monster Quiz

Much like Game Show, the Monster Quiz game allows teachers to assess students’ understanding as either a formative or summative assessment task in a fun and engaging way. Asking either Multiple Choice or True/False questions, students are broken into teams and they work collaboratively against other teams, trying to answer the questions the fastest to free their monster. This highly engaging game not only encourages their participation but also provides feedback on answers that are both right and wrong as well as triggers metacognitive strategies. When students get questions incorrect, they move on with the rest of the quiz later coming back to the questions they had trouble with later in the game, however, when they revisit the challenging questions, the answer they originally selected have been blocked out, triggering the thought process to analyse why they selected that answer and what was wrong about it.

They then can reassess the options and choose again. This valuable feedback and analysis tool allows students to learn from their mistakes and make choices from those errors that can assist with their future development, creating positive work practices for their future learning. 

As monster quiz is based on the same wizard builder as a game show, users will see a familiar and simple layout that allows you to either write in questions or utilise and existing quiz you may have developed by copying and pasting questions from a document that you may have had already developed – just remember to mark which answer is the correct one so that the program can mark the questions for you!

At the end of the session there is an opportunity for teachers to review the students’ answers and as a class, unpack not only the correct answers but also explore the processes that students employed to discount the incorrect answers. This valuable assessment analysis can help students with future assessment tasks and develop their analytical and critical thinking skills.

The 4 games that we have discussed in this article can be accessed through the SMART Learning Suite Online platform as well as the SMART Notebook software. Students can engage either at the SMART Board at the front of the classroom or these games can be pushed to the student’s personal devices for personal or small group interaction. To explore these games, you can sign up for a free trial via the link below. Once your trial has expired, please reach out to us at the PAVE Academy or to our parent company Pro AV Solutions to explore how you and the teachers at your school can access a license for these games as well as the other amazing tools that are a part of the SMART Learning Suite platform.

Questions that can drive your integration of Gamification and Game-Based Learning into the classroom and can spark professional discussions with your colleagues.

Q1

What am I doing in my current teaching practice that is the gamification of learning?

Q2

Can I use GBL tasks as formative assessment tools in my classroom?

Q3

How could I use one or all these 4 games in my classroom to increase student engagement and improve student learning outcomes?

Q4

How can I transform a current learning activity or project into a Game-Based Learning Task?

Q5

How can GBL help me plan and execute cross-curricular activities in my classroom?

References

Deduction
Published: Cambridge Dictionary

SMART Learning Suite Online
SMART Technologies

Image References

Fill in the Blanks – these images were created from PAVE Academy activities

Game Show – these images were created from PAVE Academy activities

Match Em Up – these images were created from PAVE Academy activities

Monster Quiz 1

Monster Quiz 2

Gamification & Game Based Learning – What is it and how it impacts student learning

CLASSROM DIGITAL PEDAGOGY

Gamification & Game-Based Learning - What is it and how it impacts student learning.

Introduction

Video games have come a long way since the introduction of the Commodore 64 and Atari systems in the ’80s and they are having a huge impact on the ways in which we spend our leisure time. According to the 2018 Digital Australia Report, video gaming has become a key element of the typical Australian home with 97% of Australian homes that have children have computer games as a part of their landscape and 80% of those households have more than one gaming device.

Australians play video games for an average of 89 minutes a day (all gameplay) citing “passing time and having fun” as the key reasons why we engage in this form of past time, and with this knowledge, the question needs to be asked, why are we, as teachers, not regularly embedding games and game-based learning activities into our classrooms? If Australians are spending as much time play games as this report suggests, we must find stimulation and engagement in this kind of activity, and with an ever-increasing challenge of capturing and keeping students engagement and attention in the classroom, should we actively embed games and game-based education into our classrooms to combat this issue and should this be happening as a regular element of our pedagogical approach to student learning? Even Albert Einstein understood the importance of games, indicating that “they are the most elevated form of investigation…are avenues for something deeper and more meaningful than a childish waste of time” In the following series of articles, we are going to dig deeper on this topic and unpack tools and strategies that we can implement in our classrooms to engage students through this style of the pedagogical approach. But before we start, there are 2 key terms that you may come across with regards to games in education – they are gamification and game-based learning – and we need to unpack these so that you have a strong understanding of what they are.

‘Gamification’

‘Gamification’ is the application of typical elements or mechanics of game playing into an activity and this is something that teachers have been doing for eons. So, what are ‘game elements’ that can be added to gamify a lesson? Game elements or game mechanics can include:

  • Storytelling
  • Problem-Solving
  • Critical Thinking
  • Aesthetics
  •  Trial & Error
  •  Rules
  • Collaboration
  • Competition
  • Reward Systems
  • Feedback


If you have a look at that list I am sure that you have a little voice in your head saying “I do that, and I do that…” and it is completely true because teachers do all of these elements in their daily teaching, but the question is not whether do them or not but are we drawing the students attention to them as gamification and will this drive an increase in their engagement? While I type this, I think back to my Grade 3 teacher, Mrs. Manners who, on each Friday afternoon would have us line up between our desks in 2 lines and we would compete in our time’s table races. She would call out a times table and the two students at the front of the lines would take turns in running through the time’s tables as fast as they can while she timed them. The winner would stay, and the next student would come to the front and try to dethrone the reigning champion. This sense of competition – a race with a winner and loser, is an example of Gamification in learning and as I mentioned before, is something that teachers have been embedding in their teaching practice for eons. Another example is the ways in which teachers use a points system to reward good and penalise bad behavior. Like the gold star chart at the front of the room where when a student reaches 10 gold stars can have a kind of reward or the adverse where strikes are placed against students for bad behavior resulting in punishment if they get to 3 strikes. A more popular example is the house points system referred to regularly in the Harry Potter saga (which funnily enough always seemed to be a race between Slytherin and Gryffindor for the house cup) where students were awarded house points for completing achievements or for good behavior, or points were taken if a student broke a rule. These examples show how schools and teachers have been using Gamification in the classroom, but it has never been something that was necessarily promoted, more used as a learning activity or a behavior management tool – which makes me beg the question, what could happen to student engagement if we changed our thinking on this and maybe promoted this pedagogical approach as a game, how could something simple as changing this approaches label change the ways in which students viewed these experiences in the classroom and would it drive their intrinsic motivation to be engaged and immersed in the learning that is happening?

Gamification can also be the awarding of badges for the achievement of particular elements of programs. Take a look at the bottom of emails that you receive from people – can you see any badges there? I know my email signature has badges from Apple, SMART Technologies, and Sphero and they were awarded to me for completing or being a part of different education programs. These badges are examples of where companies, like Apple, Google, SMART, Microsoft, the Kahn Academy, and millions of others, have ‘gamified’ elements of their program, creating levels of connection and participation achieved by meeting requirements/conditions and demonstrated though displaying the badges. This symbol of “leveling up”, as you would do in a video game, is a key component of Gamification which has been adopted across a wide variety of companies and industries around the world. I think about my time in scouts when I was a kid, where I earned badges for completing various tasks that my mum would sew onto the sleeves of my uniform – this is an example of gamification. Recently I attended a SMART Technologies Global Summit, and due to the 2020 COVID-19 restrictions, the conference was held digitally in the SMART 360 Platform. Each interaction in the space earned the attendees points, so if you went to an auditorium session you earned X amount of points, if you went into the exhibition hall and watched some videos or downloaded some resources that were X amount of points, and there was a leader board that displayed attendees and their accumulated points for the day with the top achievers winning prizes

There were even scavenger hunt style games throughout the day, my favorite being the hunt for the SMART Monsters who were scattered throughout the 360 platform – with each find earning you X amount of points. You could sit there and say that this insensitive based approach to engagement can be seen as “tricking” the attendee into getting involved, but I honestly believe that this approach made the day more exciting. Yes, there will be some people who get caught up in the “winning” element, and for full disclosure, I did get a little caught up in finding all the 9 monsters and was getting a little frustrated when I couldn’t find that last one, but this form of engagement can also be seen as rewarding, a way of giving back to those who were going to engage anyway and using positive reinforcement to support their engagement.

This makes me think about the ways in which we reinforce behavior in the classroom. I have had many a conversation with teachers, and graduates especially, around ways in which they manage the student behavior in their classrooms and how I was able to have minimal classroom management issues in my own class. While I didn’t necessarily gamify all the learning in my classroom like we are speaking of here, I did positively reinforce good behavior and achievement, which drove students towards practicing good behavior and achieving personal successes. Does gamification in the classroom achieve the same outcome?

Another example is how Kahn Academy are gamifying their courses. On their Kahn for Educators webpage, the Kahn Academy is helping teachers engage with their learning programs through the use of gamification elements like a scavenger hunt and downloadable certificate templates that can be presented to students for achievement. This celebration of achievement allows students to drive their involvement and work towards small goals. Yes, this element is embedded into the platform to encourage students to engage with the Kahn Academy regularly, but if you step back and think about the bigger picture, it is teaching students to break down large tasks into smaller “bite-size” pieces and then is rewarding them for achieving each small goal along the journey to overall success. 

This practice is a very important lifelong learning strategy to ensure that students are able to undertake and complete larger tasks once they are out of school and actively engaged in the workforce. So, at this point in the article, you may be thinking “ok so now I get Gamification, but what is Game-Based Learning?” To be completely honest, these 2 terms are very similar if not the same in their meaning. Game-Based Learning (GBL) is where the characteristics of games and their principles are embedded into learning activities with the key focus of driving student engagement and motivation, so I guess the key difference between the two terms is the use of the word “learning” – Gamification being for activities and Game-Based Learning being for learning activities…. The use of GBL in the classroom creates a highly engaging, and motivating learning environment for students, promoting authentic collaboration, problem-solving, and communication skills as well as fostering teamwork and peer leadership. It can also extend out to Game-making where students can develop their own educational based games to display their own learning and understanding.

One key element that needs to be considered if you are going to adopt a GBL or gamification element into your classroom is the WHY! While they can be effective engagement tools, it is important to ask yourself if the gamification is actually improving the learning, or is it something that you are doing just for the sake of it? Too many times have I seen teachers and schools adopting what could be categorized as “the latest trend” to ensure that they stay up to date with educational developments without thinking about the effect it has directly on the learning. Yes, gamification is a fantastic tool and should be used in the classroom, but it needs to be used at the right time and in the right way. It should only be used if it helps the teacher and students achieve the learning intentions or the WHY. This is the most important element and if we get distracted by activities that are “on trend” then we will have a highly engaging learning environment that has a group of highly driven and motivated students who go nowhere because the learning is not pushing them to develop and improve. Like I have said before, a hammer is a fantastic tool for pushing a nail into a piece of wood but is a terrible tool for dusting fine china on the shelf – as teachers we need to ensure we are choosing the right tool that helps us get the job done, and done well.
In all forms of education, gamification has been included but most of the time we don’t acknowledge it as a “game”. Is this a mistake? Does the idea of games have a negative connotation when related to something as serious as “education and learning”? I encourage all of you to think about ways in which you can include gamification and GBL in your future planning and lesson delivery and explore ways in which you can use it to create powerful, engaging, and inspirational classes that have students not only achieving their learning intentions but also pushing the boundaries of their potential.

Questions that can drive your integration of the Substation into the learning in the classroom and can spark professional discussions with your colleagues.

Q1

What am I doing in my current teaching practice that is the gamification of learning?

Q2

Would the use of GBL help motivate my students to learn? What element of the curriculum could this have the biggest impact on?

Q3

What are my colleagues doing in their lessons that I might like to adopt into mine?

Q4

How can I transform a current learning activity or project into a Game-Based Learning Task?

Q5

How can GBL help me plan and execute cross-curricular activities in my classroom?

References

DA:18 Digital Australia Report
By: J. Brand, S Todhunter & J. Jervis
Published by: Interactive Games & Entertainment

12 Examples of Gamification in the Classroom
By: Ryan Schaaf & Jack Quinn
Published by: Teachthought.com

Encouraging student motivation with Kahn Academy
By: Meaghan Pattani
Published by Kahn Academy

Game-Based Learning
By: Top Hat
Published by: Tophat.com

Game-Based Learning – What Is It?
By: Digital Technologies Hub
Published by: Digital Technologies Hub

Game-Based Learning
By: Annie Pho & Amanda Dinscore
Published by: Association of College & Research Libraries & American Library Association

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