For more than a decade, the elements of game-design thinking has been utilized in varied fields for obtaining desirable outcomes. Gamification has been found to yield positive results in the formative learning stages of young learners in schools and hence being increasingly used by the EdTech companies.
Today, all the EdTech and e-learning companies are using, to various extents, the tools of gamification for boosting user engagement and retention on their respective devices, platforms, apps, etc. In the app market, one may find hundreds and thousands of such learning apps which are built essentially on the gaming principles. Typically, the learners tend to spent more time with the content if they find it in the form of game or when at least some elements of gaming has been incorporated into the content.
With smartphones becoming affordable and widely available with easy to use features, mobile learning is also catching the pace and becoming popular among youths. However, m-learning still hasn’t become as much in vogue as games like PUBG, Candy Crush Saga, Clash of Clans, Minecraft etc. have among youths who are spending hours playing these. This simply depicts the popularity and entertaining value of gaming.
That’s the reason why the concept of gamification, i.e. applying the elements of game design or mechanics, found its use in other non-game settings like corporate recruitment and training, healthcare, financial services, transportation, and in service sector involving customer satisfaction.
Gamification: Why so Popular?
All of us have experienced gaming at some or the other point and know that it is highly engaging and entertaining activity. It stimulates pleasure centres in brain by secreting neurotransmitters like dopamine which is primarily responsible for motivation. This motivation glues you to a task and gives you the requisite zeal to accomplish it. Be it external motivation in forms of rewards, badges and levels or eliciting internal motivation or drives, both are possible through gamification.
The avatars gives an identity and ability to self-express by choosing the one which is most admired by the user. Teamwork is encouraged by many game settings and comes from one’s inner desire to socialize and form productive relationships. Likewise, completing a level and going to the next gives the inner sense of achievement and satisfaction. The desire to get recognized and status gets fulfilled by badges and rewards.
A good gaming experience can bring out discreet and sub-conscious yearnings to the forefront. Thereby, making it truly immersive and captivating. A video game may appear a simple fun experience but behind it lies profound psychological principles.
Elements of Gamification: Good for Learners’ Formative Years
The K-12 learners are at the foundational stages of their educational experience. In order to sustain their interest for learning in a world, where lifelong learning is going to be a norm, it is essential to make learning a joyful experience for the young learners. This has also been mandated in the National Curriculum Framework (NCF), 2005.
The learners at this stage need concrete and simple learning experiences. This particularly goes well with the K-8 learners. After grade 8, the learners are usually in a transition stage, where they can be directed towards more abstract and complex concepts. Gamification of learning can serve both these ends and can take out the boredom associated with conventional learning.
Gamification of learning has yielded good results, particularly in the area of revision and practicing of already learnt concepts in order to strengthen them. Educational games can teach learners valuable life skills apart from providing the educational concept. Life skills such as goal setting, task accomplishment, team work, time management, resource management etc., are easily grasped by the sub-conscious mind of the young learner.
However, just as much benefit a positive educational game can provide to a learner, as much harm a negative game can create on a young learner’s psyche. Hence, it is essential for parents to oversee the child’s involvement with a mobile based video game to ensure that only positive learning occurs.
So far schools in India have not appreciated or adopted the concept of gamification of learning and has in fact shown aversion to all kind of digital educational games. They reason that gamification takes out the seriousness from a supposedly formal learning environment. Times are changing and so are our education needs. Learning has to evolve itself in tune with the learner characteristics and emerging technological changes to stay relevant and meaningful.
If learning has to be joyful, the place of learning like schools should also be fun places and not someplace where children feel stressed and anxious. The schools today need to work on how to make learning interesting, learners collaborative, teachers reflective, and learning process to be personalized catering to unique needs of individual learners.
Gamification, a Toast of EdTech Companies
In India only, video gaming has become a billion dollar industry with more than about 250 game developing companies creating a niche for their expertise and gaming innovations globally. This statement is to merely reflect the growing interest for games among the general people. Bringing this entertainment quotient into education is what makes edutainment.
Edutainment principle is being leveraged by almost all the e-learning companies, big or small. The e-learning companies, on account of being providers of alternate mode of learning, are in tight spot for innovating new way of effective learning. The task isn’t as easy as it sounds. Gamification may make learning simple and fun, but its application for educative purposes is equally complex.
The providers of gamified learning on the one hand have to earn the credibility of conventional education system with help of forceful content and get away from the deficiencies or vices of the same system on the other. On the flip side, it is also difficult to successfully run an e-learning platform today without incorporating gamification.
Byju’s, MeritNation, WhizIQ, Cuemath, Vedantu are all using gaming features for their K-12 learners. Then there are a number of companies which provide educational gaming solutions like G-cube, EI Design, Edufic, Paradiso Solutions, Zeus Learning, Upside Learning and so on.
The app market is flooded with various kinds of educational gaming apps for learning mathematics, language, pre-school learning, vocabulary and word builders, test preparation, etc. and almost all of them boast of thousands of downloads of their apps.
Gamification vs Learning: How Do We Do it?
What do we usually notice in a game? A typical gaming environment comprises of players who can be in form of avatars, a scoreboard, a goal or a mission to be accomplished, levels with increasing difficulty, instant feedback, rewards, badges and bonuses to collect for added motivation, and so on. Likewise, the gaming experience in e-learning may typically sound like a simulated environment on a concept followed by quiz or puzzles.
When a learner gives correct answer, positive reinforcement is provided and on wrong response, the learner is motivated to try again. Similarly, points are allotted and some sort of rewards and badges are given to boost learner motivation. The learners can also monitor their performance through their performance graphs and levels achieved.
The game-based features can also be utilized for collaborative learning in form of teamwork and positive competition with the fellow learners or giving challenging situations. For instance, one might be prompted by records set by top scorers in a vocabulary game. This encourages the learner to participate with increased vigour. It helps in learner consistency and retention on the learning platform. Hence, gamifying learning becomes a rewarding experience for the e-learning companies.
The process of gamification involves first conceptualization of a game setting in the form of game design. It is somewhat similar to storyboarding. Once the idea is conceptualized, the game mechanics have to be worked upon with the help of game developer and graphic designers. The development of gamified e-learning experiences might sound complicated but is worth all the money and effort.
Gamified learning not only engages learners but also enhances the total learning experience. E-learning companies are working fulltime to improve learners’ experiences in order to garner more enrolments. Gamification is one such technique which can help the companies do so. Whether the e-learning module is for young K-12 learners or adult learners, all enjoy the gaming experience alike.
Today’s learner are surrounded by a lot of technological devices which are often blamed for decline in their concentration level. Social media, video games, and web series are enough to distract the learners. Learning on other hand has a tough challenge to keep the learners engaged.
The influence of technology cannot be ignored or avoided. Thus, the best we can do is to make educational experiences effective, contextual, engaging and luring for the learners by leveraging technologies like gamification, which has a great role to play.