Gamification is the use of game design elements in a non-game context in order to motivate people to achieve their goals. If the context is education, gamification should drive the students’ engagement and serve as a learning incentive. Lee&Hammer (2011) claim that schools have already used game-like elements, yet something about this environment fails to engage students.
We are pointing out some of the factors which underpin the fact that gamification and education do not go hand in hand:
1) Playing games is voluntary, education is not.
2) Introducing gamification consumes teachers’ time.
3) Teachers underestimate the role of games in the teaching process; students do not believe that school might be playable.
4) “Whilst many teaching approaches have fun, engagement and enjoyment as secondary goals, for game design it is of primary importance” (Tulloch, 2015)
We are suggesting the solutions that could cushion the negative impact of these factors.
We have addressed the first two factors in (Piskadlo, Jassem, 2014) which offers insight into a computer system that requires minimum effort from the instructor and enables voluntary participation in a gamified program.
In this paper we are addressing factors 3) and 4) by reporting on two experiments that educate through gamification. The first experiment consisted in delivering a 1-hour gamified lesson on the basics of statistics to the audience of close to 200 students at secondary and high schools. At the beginning of the class the students were supplied with remote voting devices with 4 options (A, B, C, D) to choose from. The first point of the agenda was the introduction of a fantasy story and a fictional character. The “proper lesson” started afterwards. After a part of new teaching material had been presented the students were requested to answer a control question using the said device. The percentage of correct answers was converted into “action points” and “skill progress” of the character. The story could unfold in various ways – the actual direction was selected based on voting. The students evaluated the entire idea at the end of the session - 85,4% were very positive about the experiment.
The second experiment was intended for teachers of mathematics. A group of 21 teachers took part in the session that started with a brief introduction to gamification and the potential it offers in education.
The “fun part” of the session had the formula of a TV show with a 4-person jury grading the performances of the participants. The teachers worked in groups and were asked to prepare a math lesson that would: complete a defined mission, meet the expectations of a defined type of players (students), and take advantage of specific skills of the mentor (teacher). At the beginning of the game a mission, player type and a set of mentor’s skills were randomly selected for each group - with the use of a specially designed deck of “fun cards”. The scenarios were presented to a jury who graded them in a TV show fashion. Bonus points were added to the score if the jury were able to guess the type of players the lesson was intended for and the mentor’ skills to be used in the scenario. The feedback from the teachers was very encouraging: 100% participants intended to take part in next gamification workshops, 87% were interested in introducing gamification in their classes.