Gamification is the transfer of game mechanics to other fields, especially websites, learning situations, work contexts or social networks. The objective is to increase the acceptability and the use of these applications by relying on our human predisposition to entertainment.
This design technique allows people to adopt certain behaviors, usually some behaviors that could be considered irrelevant or things they would not normally do: filling out a questionnaire, buying a product, watching advertisements or, as in our current instance: assimilating knowledge.
Therefore, by applying these video-game-inspired techniques to a classroom context, most courses can become much more interesting:
1. Progressive evaluation system
Let's admit that the education system in Africa is currently rather demotivational.
From the beginning of the school year, and starting the first homework, the ambitious student sees himself with a perfect score of 20 out of 20, but from there, the only possible direction is the reduction of his points, depending on his mistakes. If he is really brilliant, he could stay close to the average of 20, otherwise in general his average score drops with each of his mistakes.
There is a sort of feedback loop that encourages failure: when you have a bad grade, you feel less motivated to study, so you study less, so you have more bad grades, and so on. Basically, the more you fail, the more you fail.
However, in games, we learn that progress encourages progress and that the desire to be effective is a much stronger motivator than the fear of failure.
Hence we could assess the students performance just as in video games, so that any given assignment would have an XP (Experience Points) value, and if all the students start with 0xp, and they earn points as and when they find answers, complete homework/quizzes, and progress from level to level.
In this case, each assignment or exam appears to be a reward, rather than a discouraging punishment.
Why is it cool?
It's a lot more fun to win things than to lose things. Plus, this methodology never leads students to a point where they feel that they have to give up.
The good news is that you do not even have to change how average grades are calculated. It is still the same total number of points, to be divided by the same number of tests.
For example, if there are 5 homework out of 20, that's 100 points. Instead of starting from 100 points and losing points with mistakes, we move to a perspective where each starter has 0 points, and depending on his performance at each test, he earns a few points: +10, +5, + 15, etc. Thus the pupil only goes up and not down.
2. Global bonus
To extend the evaluation system described above, one can even add global bonuses, for example if one of the students reaches 200 points, the whole class gets a bonus of 10 points. Or if 5 students reach 100 points, the whole class gets + 2xp or a chocolate cake.
Why is it cool?
This kind of reward system encourages solidarity among students and encourages the best students to help their classmates.
3. Power to Impact
One of the big challenges in the education system is about taking care of children who do not feel that their actions are relevant to their own lives. To feel that you have an impact, means to feel that you control your own destiny, and that your choices make a difference.
Students who do not feel this impact tend to believe that they have no control over their parents' choices about their education. Without this feeling of impact, it is almost impossible to feel motivated. Instead of making decisions about the future, one merely undergoes the events of life without having long-term goals.
The more you feel that you have the power to impact in your life, the harder you work, the more you are keen to engage in more ambitious tasks.
Why is it cool?
In fact, people with this sense of power are more resilient in the face of external forces outside their control that are disturbing their plans. They adapt more easily, overcome obstacles and proceed towards their goals.
So how to amplify this sense of power? Through games, obviously. Games that instill the idea that you control the future. In games, the cycle between choice and results is usually much shorter than in real life (and also much better indicated).
In games, the player tries something, he fails; he tries something else, he fails again, he continues to make new decisions until he succeeds.
Games teach that different choices have different outcomes and that everyone controls the choices they make. The philosophical implication is that life is not simply a series of things that just happen to you.
Read more (part 2) >>