5 Ways to Make Your Class More Like a Game

game gamification

Picture a teenager bent over a videogame, intent to master Level 99 and conquer the world. Contrast that image with the image of a student trying to master a long list of terms for his class in Anatomy & Physiology. Why is the former student so motivated, and the latter is itching to get away?

Game designers make use of certain elements and strategies that draw players into the game and motivate them to keep on playing.

In a recent post on Edudemic, Douglas Kiang suggests 5 creative ways to incorporate gaming elements into your course:

  1. Games often have a community of players who maintain a constant online presence for the game, so that the game becomes a world of its own. To use the power of community in your course, consider setting up a forum for the students to interact with each other online – for example, set up a chatroom where they can discuss their learning, or make a special online event for all students to watch your video lecture at the same time. Building a community of learners will help students feel like there is something bigger going on beyond themselves and their indvidual study sessions.
  2. Break up tests into smaller, more frequent quizzes. This strategy will help diminish the nervousness and pressure that students feel when they face a huge exam and are dreading a dramatic “GAME OVER.” Offering these mini-quizzes will not only check for student understanding but also can help boost their confidence along the way.
  3. Offer multiple paths to success; let your students work on assignments in the order they prefer. Incorporate flexibility and choice into your course as much as possible, because students will learn best when their personal preferences are taken into consideration.
  4. Employ instructional scaffolding techniques: Just as games often offer a tutorial level before gamers start to play the real game, your course should be designed so that it starts with simple skills and builds upon those skills in a gradual process. Consider offering badges when students gain specific skills or pass certain “levels” in your class.
  5. Help students find purpose and meaning in their work. Let students set their own goals or build something meaningful for society. Game designers know that you have to give players some sort of goal to be working toward, like defending against evil or building a world empire. Having a sense of meaning and purpose helps students feel like all their efforts are really worthwhile.

Have you tried any of these gaming techniques in your class before? How do you think professors can get students to feel more “hooked” on their courses?

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