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The Gamification of Learning
Submitted by suzie on 18 October 2011 - 2:43pm
Great article in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning about how game strategies and mechanics are being used to incentivise and reward learning - gamification has come to the classroom.
Educators are starting to implement gamification strategies in learning environments, awarding students with virtual currency, points and badges for completing exercises and tasks. Students progress through levels of tasks until they reach a goal when they might be rewarded with a chance to play a game or a real-world reward. Game mechanics tap into motivators like competition, self-expression, collaboration to engage students more thoroughly than traditional desk-based learning.
According to the article, gamification isn't just being used in school classrooms, experiments are being undertaken at the tertiary level as well. Academics at the University of Western Sydney are working on a virtual world that re-creates the ancient city of Uruk from about 3000BC. 'Preliminary studies show students who use the game absorb more historical information than those who read a book'.
Earlier this year games giant, Zynga (creators of Facebook hits FarmVille, CityVille and others), signalled the seriousness with which it was taking the gamification of learning when it invested in Grockit, an online test preparation service that gamifies test practice for students.
We have some experience in this space, developing Pascal Press' Excel Test Zone test practice site and Blake Education's ABC Reading Eggs early reader education site. We're seeing that gamification of learning is working - building in rewards in the form of virtual currency and rewards in the forms of fun games gives students strong incentives to complete activities and progress through learning stages.
While still in it's early incarnations, gamified learning programs are showing promise. Games are powerful motivators and integrating them into education gives educators another tool in their resource box to get students learning.