Games have been used for many years inside and outside of the classroom. It is a common aspect of many people’s lives especially students that are in the elementary school. If you ask kids, “What is work?” Many of them will answer, “assignments, homework, project, school!” But if you ask them, “What is play?” Most of them will say, “Games, PE, Video games, Lego, etc.
” Their answer tells us something interesting. Teachers and administrators on the other hand have it a little backwards given that students are already surrounded by technology and have an ever decreasing attention span. This is why many teachers are looking into new tools and techniques including games in various forms in the classroom, outside the classroom and in the digital space.Gamification is a fairly new concept and approach to education. It incorporates elements of a game in educational environments. Kapp (2012) defines “gamification” as “using game-based mechanics, aesthetics, and game thinking to engage people, motivate action, promote learning, and solve problems” (p.
10). It has been shown that gamification can increase motivation and learning yet its application in educational contexts yield conflicting results. It is important to understand what elements of gamification can yield favorable results so that it can be properly adopted into the classroom. With the advent of technology, teachers have a bigger challenge than ever in involving the students, challenging them, stimulating their interest, retaining attention and maintaining their positive attitude.
Technology doesn’t have to be considered a hindrance but an opportunity – another tool to add into a teacher’s arsenal of teaching tools. Although we all have become increasingly dependent upon information and communication technology, especially in the International School where students are provided with internet connectivity, laptop computers, etc, many of us are ill-equipped to use it properly nor use it as a tool to motivate or encourage students to be excited to learn. Without a meaningful engagement these technologies would just a hindrance. Another issue arising is that students don’t have a strong willingness to learn or learn with enthusiasm. If presented with something that is long, requiring a specific or complex task, involves much thinking and work, they begin to show insufficient interest and or begin to struggle to finish.
For example, when students are asked to play a game and they die in the game or did not achieve the task, they will say “arrrggghhh, I need to try again!” but when they are asked to write an essay or work on a project and they fail they will say “I’m not doing that again.” Gamification, like games, can create its own cultures and identities that players must become a part of, allowing students to smoothly step out of their comfort zones (James Paul Gee, 2008). Gamification allows students to have a safe place to learn from their mistakes and failures and can be used as a platform to teach how to fix the problems they encounter. Since gamification has the ability to change behaviors by implementing steps including small manageable tasks, building complexity over time, having a group that all have the same goal or goals, and repetition or practice during the building knowledge (Brian Burke 2014), it has the potential to empower students to form and create their own intrinsic motivation.