Hi, my name is Anne Reed and I’m Director of Micro-Credentials and Digital Badges at the University at Buffalo. Today I’m going to talk to you a little bit about gamification.
Gamification is commonly defined as the use of game-based elements in non-game contexts. Gamification uses game mechanics, dynamics, and frameworks with the intention of promoting desired behaviors.
In the field of education, there is an important but somewhat misunderstood distinction between “gamification” and “game-based learning” or educational games.”Gamification only uses parts or elements of games to motivate and engage the learners. Whereas, game-based learning uses a complete game to teach a concept. For example, Angry Birds is a digital game that can be used in a physics course to help students understand projectile motion. An example of gamification might be a group assignment where students are presented with a fantasy narrative where they must take on the role of investigators who analyze geographic clues to solve the case. In the physics course, students use a stand-alone game. The gamified example uses a single game element, a fantasy narrative, to engage the learners.
Gamification is rooted in the psychology of motivation. Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can be triggered through the use of game elements. For example, a leaderboard can be employed as an extrinsic motivator, as in “I am motivated to show my status and be on the top of the leaderboard so I will work hard to do well in this course.”
Digital badges are a type of reward that might function as an intrinsic motivator or an extrinsic motivator, depending upon the values of the individual. For example, one learner might be motivated to earn badges in a course in order to showcase the badges on her social media page; while another learner might be motivated by the use of badges in a course because she enjoys the challenge of trying to earn all of the available badges. The first example is extrinsic motivation and the second example is intrinsic motivation, but the game element is the same in both examples.
There may be many benefits to gamification depending on how it is applied. If you think about it, providing students with opportunities to fail and try again can take the pressure off of them and allow them to take risks… something that is critical to the learning process. If you provide students with options they will likely feel more ownership over their learning. If you provide visible indicators of achievement (such as a progress bar or digital badges) their learning becomes more visible. These are just a few potential benefits of gamification. I hope you explore more as a result of the information you discover through this course.