This week was an eye opener for me again. I love this. I thought I have an idea of gamification but that was not even half of the game. Google gives us the following definition:
Here a 100 second explanation (in German): Gamification. Basically the idea of gamification is to use elements of the game in a non-game-context.
Being a teacher I thought games are used in school to motivate and educate children. Students always want to play, to compete, to win. Already at university I learnt that playing is learning and a game has certain criteria to be a real game: Goals, rules, challenges, feedback, feeling of success or sense of achievement.
But I didn’t imagine at all and I was very surprised that it becomes more and more a tool for companies, websites, and even scientific institutes … actually with the similar goals: To motivate (Zombies, run! or Superbetter), to increase engagement (practicallygreen.com), to educate, to let employees collaborate, to inform (Gamification im Gaza-Konflikt: Social-Media-Spiel der israelischen Armee – or manipulate?), to build a relationship, to let participate, to let find solutions (Fold.it & Foldit – Gamification pusht HIV Forschung), to give an additional appeal to something, to increase the company revenue, to get more traffic on their website or to solve real-world problems, which is Jane Mc Gonigal’s goal who coined the word for the first time. Listen to her very interesting TED talk, where she explains how she wants to solve the problems of the world through gaming.
Obviously playing games gives us something with many of us don’t experience in real life like confirmation, recognition, status, awards, fun, exchange with others, self-fulfillment, competition, … people are gaming several hours a week I read somewhere. Are you a gamer? I don’t have any people around me who are crazy for games. I’m definitely not a gamer. It does not appeal to me or motivates me at all to run away from zombies (see above). Are you a gamer and even more interesting for me: What is it what makes you play a lot?
As a teacher on the other hand I’m very interested and curious to use digital games for teaching and learning. Last year I realized how popular Minecraft amongst my 4th and 5th grader is that I questioned my students over and over again. Over the summer I tried to get into it. I played two days and lost interest (or time or just different priorities). The benefit for the students is definitely there – it’s motivating, engaging, learning, it’s fun, it is rewarding, it gives a different approach to deal with failure, etc. – I would love to give it a try this school year. As long it is a choice for them because not every student is a gamer. And in addition for me as a teacher it still very important for me to give the students the possibility to find and live their passions, to experience the joy of learning so they are doing what they are interested in, so they are motivated and engaged, so they experience confirmation and success to build a healthy self-confidence.
My next question will be: How could gamification look like in education? How could it look like in my classroom as a language teacher? I’m also curious now whether any colleague at our school is going in the direction of gamification?
I’m excited to see more examples …
PS: Did you opened several links and they were all in German? Two reason why: First I just was too tired this week to inquire into the topic gamification in English. I started in German and I mostly sticked to it. Second I was very curious to read what is going on in the German spoken educational landscape.