Why you should care about gamification in higher education

New studies, data reveal that gamification is more than just a fad; helps students later in careers

gamification-gaming-learningGaming in education has, for the most part, been a K-12 trend, with its popularity relegated to supplemental learning for elementary school students. But gamification, from its implementation at MIT to its praise from the job industry, has much more serious implications for college students—and perhaps it’s time higher education got serious about incorporating game design.

Today’s course design is under incredible pressure from popular practices favored by students—practices like the inclusion of interactive mobile technology, blended learning, Flipped Learning, and the integration of peer community forums—and according to experts, understanding the reasons why students prefer these methods of instruction can be gleaned from taking part in gaming.

“We do games so that we can relate better to our students,” said Kae Novak, chair for ISTE’s SIG Virtual Environments and project lead instructional designer for student engagement and assessment at Front Range Community College. “Students constantly tell us that they wish classes were more like games, so knowing the parts of gaming that can be incorporated into learning helps to change our knowledge structure.” [Read: “Should every educator also be a gamer?”]

And Novak knows what she’s talking about: According to data from Knewton—an adaptive learning tech provider—28 million people harvest their crops on FarmVille every day; and over 5 million play an average of 45 hours a week of games. As a planet, we spend 3 billion hours a week playing video and computer games.

These statistics alone show that there has to be something about the way games are designed that people find appealing.

And according to The Knowledge Guru—a game-based learning engine—a research study, “Does Game-Based Learning Work?” found that when video games were added to classroom instruction in various undergraduate courses, students in classes using the games scored significantly higher than classes that did not.

But what makes gamification effective; and are all game designs created equal? A series of infographics developed by leading technology solutions providers help answer these questions.

(Next page: How gamification can affect learning)

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