Are you ready to introduce gamified learning into your classroom? Here are four steps to the successful integration of gamified learning into your classroom:
1. Define and determine your goals.
Defining and deciding how you’ll use a game will narrow your search, helping you find the best game for your goals. Guido (2016) offers the following before researching, determine if you want to use a game for:
Enrichment - As students master the material you have taught, you may want a game that presents content through different media as a way to practice or show mastery over the material. Asking students to show their learning differently should encourage students to challenge themselves as they explore new ways to process the content.
Reinforcement - Instead of using games to teach and engage individual students, entire classes can play to reinforce curriculum content. This can also make gamified learning a group activity. Some games have multiplayer features, and students may naturally compete against each other to earn higher scores.
Now that you have defined your goals and why you are using the game, search for a game that works for you.
2. Device Choice, Practice and Learning Goal Alignment
Practice playing the game yourself. This is especially important if you are playing on a PC or Macbook and planning to use the game on a mobile device or iPad in the classroom. Different apps and websites look different and function slightly different depending on the device. Playing and demoing the game as a teacher and learner will help you determine if the game is aligned with the learning goals you have set in step 1. Guido (2016) provides the following list after finding a game you think is appropriate, play it and make a note of:
Teacher Control - Many educational games offer teachers the ability to control content and adjust settings for individual students. For example, some let you match questions to in-class material, delivering them to specific players.
Engagement - Based on the content and how it’s presented, determine if students will enjoy the game. If it’s engaging, students should inherently want to play and, as a result, learn.
Content Types - To accommodate diverse learning styles, the game should offer different types of content. For example, an educational math video game may present questions as graphs, numbers and word problems.
Content Levels - To address diverse trouble spots and aptitudes, the game should use differentiated instruction principles to adapt content to each player. For example, a language video game may focus more on pronouns with one student than another.
After playing the game and practicing as both a teacher and learner, you are now ready to move to step 3.
3. Dedicate Time to Consistent In-Class Play
As noted by Guido (2016), sporadic learning games may not allow students to reach learning goals as effectively as consistent, scheduled playtime. What’s more, it may not be as engaging as possible. Games play a vital role in building students’ self-confidence so be sure to dedicate time in-class (Boyle, 2011). Dedicating time to games can also be used to teach other skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, sportsmanship, interaction and collaboration with peers. This helps in creating less stifled individuals who are not limited but can adapt to many real-world situations. Zirawaga, et al., 2017).
Guido (2016) offers ways to include games into learning in both 1:1 device classrooms and classrooms without devices in the following ways:
In a classroom with 1:1 device use, can make time for gamified learning activities by:
Including game time as a designated activity in your lesson plan, not an afterthought
Using a game as an entry ticket, drawing student attention to the lesson’s topic
Using a game as an exit ticket, allows students to reflect
Just because you do not have devices in your classroom does not mean you can not introduce gamified learning activities. You can achieve this by:
Focusing more on non-digital games, such as board games with educational value
Creating learning stations, one of which is playing a device-based game
Playing team games, letting students play in pairs or groups
These options should make it easier to designate time for educational play, seamlessly incorporating gamified instruction into class.
4. Use the Reports section if Possible or Applicable
As the teacher, you need to make sure the games you implement are helping students master the content and make progress in your classroom (Hovhannisyan, 2018). This is extremely important as using a game should add to the overall learning of your learners. Just like other lessons, educators collect data to drive their instruction. Looking at the data collected from the games you implement can uncover learner strengths and weaknesses while helping your shape in-class instruction. Data collection will vary depending on the purpose and nature of the game in question. Guido (2016) provides the following ways to access data:
In-Game Reports - Some educational video games feature in-game reports for teachers, which record student performance. For example, charts will contain each player’s marks for a series of questions, letting you click to see more details.
Self-Reports - For physical games, or video games without reporting features, you can encourage students to take ownership of their progress through self-reporting. Create a Google Forms spreadsheet for each student. Then, ask them to provide updates.
This final step of incorporating gamified learning will give you the information needed to adjust lessons and activities, address trouble spots and build on new knowledge.