Gamification: What it is and Why it Matters
Gamification is being implemented into elearning as more learning management systems, instructional designers, teachers, and organizations realize the benefit of including some form of game learning into their courses. To some, the idea of gamification is rather new, but it actually has been around in some form or another for quite some time.
Thanks to some content developed by Mia MacMeekin, I was able to discover the origins of gamification, as well as the practical uses today. Gamification started as game theory, where a strategic decision-making module was first introduced to business and slowly evolved over time. From there, game-based learning came about, as teachers from all over the world began to use games like Monopoly, Scrabble, Life, Oregon Trail, and the like to teach various concepts.
Gamification is the further evolution of game theory and game-based learning. Gamification is the use of various gaming techniques/strategies in a non-game setting to increase the participation of users involved with the learning. It is “the process of adding game mechanics to processes, programs, and platforms that would not traditional use such concepts. The goal is to create incentives and a more engaging experience” (Swan, 2012, p.13). The very core of gamification is a “participation-and-reward system” (Swan, 2012, p.13) that keeps challenging users by offering points, badges and/or levels based on user interaction with courses.
Teachers and businesses are attracted to gamification because it creates an experience, as well as a measurable experiment based on user activity. By looking at the points and awards users are achieving, you can better determine which elearning courses are resonating with students or employees. The idea of using gamification is to allow students to take risks that they normally would not take in a real-life scenario (Bajdor & Dragolea, 2011). This in turn creates a “safe” atmosphere where teachers and employers can gain a better understanding of their constituents behavior, motivators, and general understanding of key concepts – very valuable information!
If you are on the fence about gamification, you should give it a shot before ruling it out completely. For instance, adding a badges and point reward system is rather easy, depending on your platform. See how your users react and if it encourages further interaction with your elearning content. If it is well received, then consider expanding upon your gamification strategy by polling your content users what they would like to see implemented.