Gamification in learning


WHY Gamification?

The traditional models of education are becoming increasingly ineffective and challenging to apply. Motivating students to do tasks such as readings, engaging in class activities, participation in discussions, completing assignments etc. are becoming difficult for teachers. Today’s students spent their time in video games, online environments and social networks. Rather than trying to make students stay of of these (bad?) habits, we can make use of the potential of these systems to educate students. Today’s video games includes an interesting storyline, objectives/missions that keeps you occupied and require a certain level of logical thinking to progress through the game. Students are found to have better concentration and faster and better thought process while playing a game than while studying. Application of the gaming concepts to the learning process can clearly bring out a huge improvement in the process of education.

This is what Gamification in Learning is all about.

The mechanisms of delivering education

There are two methods by which education, at all levels can be delivered

  • Instructor led
  • Computer based

It is possible to apply gamification to both these mechanisms.

Instructor led learning

It does not always have to be in  classroom setting. It can include informal learning like a parent teaching honesty to a child, a kid showing off his hockey skills to his peers, etc.

Benefits of Instructor led learning

Instructor led learning is very interactive.

Drawbacks of Instructor led learning

  • The effectiveness totally depends on the teaching skill of the instructor.
  • It can get very expensive when it is related to a career(formal teaching about a topic by a hired instructor)

Computer based learning

Computer based education, like instructor led need not be always formal.


  • a toddler learning alphabets, numbers, colors etc. using an app on iPad
  • Watching YouTube tutorials

Benefits of Computer based learning

  • It can be cheaper than instructor led learning
  • People can do it at their own time
  • Do not have to take time off from regular work to attend

Drawbacks of Computer based learning

  • Lacks interactivity
  • Receiver don’t have opportunity to clarify all their doubts
  • Lower retention rate

Game-based Learning Systems

  • The problem with most computer-based learning systems is that, they can become repetitive and disengaging after extended use.
  • This is problematic when extended use is required for sufficient depth of understanding.

Successful educational games must:

  • Identify the ability level of the player
  • Provide rapid feedback
  • Be slightly more challenging than the learner’s skill

Game-based learning systems are being rated by students as being more enjoyable and motivating

Studies show that students report increased self-efficacy.

How to gamify?

Depending on how much game like features are required, one or more of the following can be done

  • Add points to tasks that need to be completed
  • Define badges/rewards to be given out after a criteria is met
  • Create a leaderboard to show top performers
  • Define levels to repeat tasks or to perform harder tasks
  • Earning of badges can be tied to unlocking higher levels

Difference between Games and Gamification





Some examples of educational Games

1.Sony Wonderbook

Sony has launched a new device called Wonderbook which hooks up with their PS3. It is meant to create a virtual world allowing people to view and participate in the stories of the book instead of just reading it. This participation allows the outcome of the book to be different like a game. Sony has partnered with JK Rowling to create a Wonderbook for her Book of Spells.

2. World Peace Game

John Hunter has created a board game called World Peace Game to teach 4th graders for being future leaders by simulating real world scenarios. Some of the documented results from the game areas follows:

  • Students solving global warming
  • One student pre-empted a globally catastrophic war by blocking supplies to the offending country
  • Students shared resources with countries in need to bring overall prosperity to all countries

Due to this, John Hunter has been recognized by Time Magazine as one of the 12 education activists to watch in 2012.

3. Ananth Pai

Ananth Pai is a 3rd grade teacher. He has incorporated games to teach his students about reading and mathematics. The result is that within 4.5 months Mr. Pai’s class went from being a below average 3rd grade class to a mid level 4th grade class.