Gamification was among the key trends he identified, along with the maker movement, virtual worlds and immersive worlds, and the Internet of Things. Brodnick created conceptual images and videos of classrooms with wheeled desks, moveable walls and groupings of screens to allow for simultaneous viewing to reflect how gamification is changing learning spaces.

And when learning spaces change, “it’s a huge deal,” Brodnick said. “Classrooms have remained unchanged for decades. We’ve learned this all really matters. If you build and create spaces in a more flexible way, you’re not dictating to students how they’re going to have to learn.”

For instance, a new course in Penn State College of Education’s Learning Design and Technology  program is not only integrating technology in the classroom, it is encouraging the students’ use of commercial video games.

The online course offered this summer through Penn State World Campus trains current educators and teachers-in-training how to integrate commercial off-the-shelf video games into their lessons.

“This course develops 21st century teaching skills beyond the basics of technology integration,” said Ali Carr-Chellman, department head and professor of learning and performance systems. “It teaches current and future educators how to keep students engaged in learning by utilizing the technology they use in their everyday lives.”

And the University of California, Irvine is launching an e-sports and gaming initiative this fall, which the university says is the first of its kind at a public research university.

A state-of-the-art arena equipped with high-end gaming PCs, a stage for League of Legends competitions and a live webcasting studio will be constructed at the Student Center, and as many as 10 academic scholarships will be offered to students on the team.

A recent survey of students found that 72 percent identify as gamers and 89 percent support the creation of an e-sports team. College Magazine ranked UCI the No. 1 school for gamers in 2015. The Association of Gamers boasts the highest membership of any student club on campus, and the computer game science major in the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences is the largest in the country.

At first, gamification was a fringe tool, not necessarily very common, but people were doing it,” Brodnick said. “I think that when the world got serious about games, and realized so many people, particularly that 12-22 age range, were spending lots of time gaming, research started and companies and developers got serious, even hiring educators and psychologists to help in game design and production.”

Not Just Gamification

According to Brodnick, there are three learning trends outside of gamifing causing a disruption to classroom spaces today:

1. Maker co-learning spaces: These spaces are based on the intersecting trends of the maker movement, learning, design thinking, and entrepreneurship. “When you put together design thinking—learning by doing—it has totally disrupted what a classroom should look like,” Brodnick said. “We know now that everything needs to be on wheels. We want things that can be used rapidly. Students are on their feet. They’re sitting, doing, moving.

2. Immersive visual simulation learning: This model takes trends of visual worlds, the Internet of Things and gamification, and imagines students entering a world based on simulation in which they’re either immersed via a headset or they’re interacting with screens. It’s blurring the lines between what is virtual and what’s real. For instance, science students might step inside a chemical reaction as it occurs to be a part of the reaction, which they see in 3D.

3. Boundary-less learningscape: This is based on trends of personalized learning, project-based learning, and blended learning involving handheld devices. “What we’re starting to realize is that learning is happening out of the classroom, more and more, as students are increasingly connected to each other and to information through their phones. Learning by doing is much more powerful than acquiring content and applying it five years later on the job. As you move around throughout the day, you have learning experiences, and it’s having a significant impact on how campuses are designed. You might not need as many classrooms, or as many bookshelves in libraries.”

Laura Ascione