Engaging Students Online through Gamification in Education
A relatively common term, a neologism none the less, Gamification is finding its ground-hold in almost all facets of todays' livelihood: Be it any Profession or Entertainment or Education for that matter. Why? Because such is the efficacy of this phenomenon that addresses the very psychological needs of every human being - Challenging ones self, Instant gratification, Collective responsibility, freedom to experiment without the fear of failure, to name a few.
Gamification can be broadly defined as the introduction or application of facets of game elements into non-game contexts.
World over, in the field of education too, gamification finds rapid adoption. As with any new concept, or old, but new to one's particular experiential bucket, gamification can easily be misconstrued as sugar-coating sour pills to lure children into doing things that they may not be very keen otherwise. This can have disastrous results. Contrary to this misnomer, the rightly thought through adoption of gamification in education has also brought about incredibly positive results. All of these success stories have certain common traits - As Dr Jane Mc Gonigal quotes in her book "Reality is Broken" - When you strip away the genre differences and the technological complexities, all games share four defining traits: a goal, rules, a feedback system, and voluntary participation. As per the philosophy of "design thinking", it is extremely important to Design a process or a system with elements of gamification as a fundamental building block; trying to enforce gamification on top of existing processes can lead to undesired results!
Children perform best with intrinsic motivation as opposed to external stimulus - the fundamental difference being, implicit behaviour promotes curiosity to learn, as opposed to external "stimulus" promoting reacting to the same. This brings about fundamental differences in the sustainability / retention of the gamified process Vs other external factors. Gamification essentially gives this inherent stimulus to children, and adoption becomes natural. The success factor lies in how one optimally balances the seriousness of education whilst making the child inherently curious to know more. Gamification provides this very "secret sauce"! Surveys suggest the most accepted gamification elements include challenge to move to higher / complex degree of levels (31%), followed by Points and leaderboards (27%), followed by providing actionable real time feedback (26%)*. Additionally, compared to traditional forms of learning, children from grades 1-5 spend 56% more time studying using gamified learning & assessment applications, and grades 6-12 students spend 35% more. Needless to say, these numbers would only swell up going into the future, with virtual and augmented reality propelling the gamification experience to whole new levels of "experiential learning" as opposed to traditional learning.
It is estimated that the gamification market size would be ~ US $5.5B in 2018*, and is expected to reach over US$ 11B by 2021. A large part of this growth is expected to be propelled by gamification adoption in the edtech space.
The Indian education space has its unique challenges - where traditional learning has been of paramount importance - and resistance to change is high - but the newer generation learning methodologies are picking up and adoption to technology in general, and differentiated learning in particular is gaining momentum. This is true for all grade levels in the K12 space and beyond. Innovation in technology will continue to revolutionise the way children adopt educational methodologies while still getting essential learning experience to prepare them for the ever-changing tomorrow. Mr. Harish Bijoor declared in one of his speeches addressing a gathering of principals in Bangalore, and I quote: "The last century was dominated by Industrialism" and the next century's "ISM" would be propelled by "Digital"ism. Data is surely the new power in the 21st century, and it continues to grow exponentially with the advent of digitalism.
It is imperative that the current generation of educators adopt various flavours of gamification in education to help build future generations! As Dr Jane quotes, "Reality is stuck in the present. Games help us imagine and invent the future together."