For many years now the benefits of gaming in educational settings has been seen as an effective way to further education in K-12 settings.
Generally, schools and teachers alike seem to be bringing games into the classroom. Many administrators say that they believe the use of digital content in schools increases student engagement and helps them to personalize instruction. Seeing as how kids love video games (and a large majority play games on a regular basis already), it only seems like a natural fit.
Today’s K-12 kids have grown up with variety of digital technologies at their fingertips, so they’re very much used to learning, communicating, and creating through various forms of media. While gaming may seem “new” for a season teaching or training professional, it is just the way of life for today’s youth.
What I find to be the biggest benefit of gaming in the classroom, or in any training environment for that matter, is that it requires the user to engage with (and be an active part of) the learning content. So, instead of just sitting there and receiving a lecture, the recipient is part of the learning, and in some sense can control it. Gaming also naturally develops problem solving, communication, collaboration, and negotiation skills – a set of skills that were often left to the playground to develop.
I have always thought that the game has to be engaging if it is to be effective. In other words, just because math problems are put onto a mobile app doesn’t mean that it makes students more interested in math – or the game for that matter. That said, the quality of educational games (in both game-play and graphics) are often on-par with the leading entertainment franchises. And, as games such as Farmville have taught us, game play isn’t always graphic driven.
Implementing some sort of gameification into a classroom (or any training setting) is actually quite easy. The simplest form is the use of a point/rewards system for certain actions. This is always a good place to start, and then depending on the traction gained, you can develop further as necessary. In a classroom setting, these points could potentially be translated into extra credit – which supplies the motivating factor.
In a future article we will discuss how you can further add a gaming layer for a WordPress LMS, and how you can further use it to drive home learning.