Gamification in learning is yet another educational movement based on what students respond to best. The benefits of gamification in learning are that it motivates children to engage on a different level with the topic they’re studying, and increases their retention after study too. But crucially, there’s a big difference between gamification done right and gamification done wrong.
So, let’s take a look at examples of good and bad gamification, and learn some pointers to best employ it with your students!
Duolingo- gamified language learning
Duolingo, if you’ve never heard of it, provides free online courses for anybody wanting to learn a language. They have the most obvious and well known languages- English, Spanish, French- as well as more obscure options like Game of Thrones’ High Valyrian language, Hungarian and Vietnamese. There’s something for everybody to learn. So where does the gamification come in?
Well, Duolingo is a great example of gamification in learning, in action. Every aspect of the learning process is gamified: the user is constantly rewarded with trophies and achievements, and even gain in-game currency (called lingots) for things like levelling up and being challenged to use the app daily for a week. The currency can be used to customise your profile, and subtly indicating your language prowess at the same time!
Duolingo has enjoyed great success in recent years, as user numbers have grown. Its success is also mirrored in the fact that it’s widely used in public schools in developing countries like Costa Rica and Guatemala to help students learn English. In fact, Durolingo released a VLE-of-sorts for teachers, which allows them to track their students’ progress with the site.
Google News- gamification, but for what purpose?
Never one to be caught behind the curve, Google has tried to catch onto the gamification trend too. But we felt that their attempt was more for its own sake than for any real purpose. And in fact, it seemed to do the opposite of what it actually set out to do!
Google News is like a great big RSS feed complied by Google, from reliable sources worldwide. But not enough people (according to Google, at least) knew about the service, and fewer stayed around to use it repeatedly. So Google decided to gamify the experience, and began to offer badges as a reward for the number of articles, and the kind of articles, you read.
The hope was that this could give you bragging rights over your friends on Google Plus, because you can display the badges on your profile. But it didn’t catch on, and here’s the reason why: they didn’t represent any kind of achievement. Reading a news article is more of a way of passing the time and, obviously, keeping up with the news than a hobby or a challenge.
Duolingo’s example of gamification worked because learning a language is a genuine challenge. Increasing your vocabulary, learning the grammatical rules of a new language, and being able to pronounce sounds unused in your own language is difficult, where reading a news article just isn’t. Gamification in education has to be the same, or it falls at the first hurdle.