Playing to learn: Panelists at Stanford discussion say using games as an educational tool provides opportunities for deeper learning

We may think we’re pretty smart, but in fact we have very little notion of how humans learn. Kids know: They play games. Until, that is, they go to school. That’s when the games stop. And often, so does the learning.

That was the sad panorama painted by a panel of distinguished experts on education and “gamification” who nonetheless were optimistic about the promise of using games in pedagogy.

The panel discussion, held at the Graduate School of Education (GSE) on Feb. 26, was part of the yearlong public course, Education’s Digital Future (Educ 403x). Roy Pea, co-convener of the class and a professor in the GSE, introduced the speakers by noting that what he called “gaming to learn” has been around Stanford for close to a decade. (One of the speakers later noted that Wikipedia claims that Stanford students in 1971 invented the first known instance of a coin-operated video game.) But it is only recently that gamification’s possibilities in the realm of education truly have been appreciated.

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Why Financial Literacy Is So Important!


In past generations, cash was used for most daily purchases; today, it's rarely flashed – particularly not by younger shoppers. The way we shop has changed as well. Online shopping has become the top choice for many, creating ample opportunities to use and overextend credit – an all-too-easy way to accumulate debt, and fast.

Meanwhile, credit card companies, banks and other financial institutions are inundating consumers with credit opportunities – the ability to apply for credit cards or pay off one card with another – and without the proper knowledge or checks and balances, it is easy to get into financial trouble.

Read more: Why financial literacy is so important | Investopedia 

Gamification of Learning; The Final Piece of the Puzzle (part 4/4)


This is the fourth and final instalment in our gamification of learning blog mini-series, and in this post we’ll outline everything you need to know about the key elements of a gamified learning environment and why they make learning so captivating for students.

Need to reminder of PART 1PART 2 or PART 3 of the series?

We’ve previously defined the concept of gamification, outlined how it works and then gone on to discuss the different game formats that you can use in the classroom. Part four is the last piece of the puzzle and by the end of the final article you should understand everything you need to know to start using gamification in your classroom!

Goals and objectives

The first gaming elements that we’ll discuss are goals and objectives. Defined goals are arguably the most fundamental aspect of games and gaming. Clear goals and objectives ensure that players have a purpose and focus while playing the game. Goals should be clear and visible; this provides players with feedback on progress and increases motivation. Without a clear goal, it’s impossible for players and learners to understand if their efforts are getting them closer to the overall objective and to ultimately decide who wins the game. Having a clear goal also gives players the autonomy they need in order to achieve the goal in new and creative ways.

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Gamification of Learning; What Types of Games Are Best? (part 3/4)


In part three of four in this gamification of learning blog mini-series we’re going to cover the types of game format that can be used within an educational context. All of these will likely be familiar to you in another context, but here we’ll give useful examples and type them to an educational context. So let’s get going!

Missed parts 1 & 2? – Get a reminder here; Part 1 | Part 2


Race games

This format will be familiar to many from computer games such as Mario Kart or even the board game Snakes and Ladders, where competitors race to be the first to a finish line. There is even a race component in the last week’s example of Monopoly – although there is no set finish line, players are incentivised to move around the board as they receive money each time they pass the starting point. In a learning environment a race format can be used as learners race to get to the top of a leaderboard, or answer questions as they move across a board to reach the other side.

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How to Integration Gamification in the Classroom (part 2/4)


Need a reminder of part 1 of 4 of the gamification mini-series?

In part two of this gamification of learning blog mini-series we’ll look at two methods for integrating game elements into your lessons, and then discuss how you can scaffold the learning content within your game to ensure that learners are challenged at the optimal level for them to make progress.

Content vs Structural Gamification

The techniques for gamifying the learning environment can be broken down into two approaches, content and structural gamification. Content gamification refers to when elements of gamification are built into the content itself. This can be done by interweaving elements such as story, challenge, curiosity, mystery and character into the learning content. An example of this could be adding the element of story and mystery to a maths problem as students have to navigate their way through a fantasy world solving equations to move onto the next section, uncovering a small part of a ‘master’ equation for each smaller problem they solve. It’s not necessary to turn an entire lesson into one large complex game. Instead it can suffice to add elements of the gaming experience to the content that needs to be learnt in order to increase the intrigue and engagement of the learners and, critically, to support the learning objectives.

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Exploring the Gamification of Learning (part 1/4)


Exploring Gamification

Games and playing games are as old as civilisation itself and at some stage in life, be it adult or child, we have all played games. Whether this is playing football in the park, a board game at home or simple word games on a long journey, playing games is part of what makes us human. The ‘gamification’ of learning allows us to take the concepts of games, with the associated fun and enjoyment and combine this with the instruction, practice and feedback that is necessary for effective learning to occur. Gamification results in learners becoming more engaged and, importantly, heightens their enjoyment of the learning process.

Crucially, when students are engaged and enjoying the learning process, they are typically able to focus on a learning task for longer, and are likely to demonstrate improved retention of the content they are attempting to master.

Harnessing the excitement and fun of games to aid learning is the fundamental concept behind the gamification of learning. This involves incorporating and integrating game elements within the learning environment to maximise the enjoyment and engagement that learners experience through playing games in order to support specific learning objectives.

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4 Expectations for Online Education in 2018


As more students seek flexible alternatives to traditional, on-campus courses, online education continues to evolve.

Among other trends, 2017 saw the proliferation of smaller credentials beyond online degrees, rising online course enrollment at nonprofit universities and the use of big data to track student performance.

And there's plenty more in store for 2018, experts say. Here are four trends in online higher education that prospective students should watch this year.

1. Continued overall enrollment growth: The number of U.S. students who enrolled in at least one online course rose by 5.6 percent between fall 2015 and fall 2016 – a faster rate than in the previous three years, according to a 2018 report published by the Babson Survey Research Group.

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The Intersection of Learning and Fun: Gamification in Education


Worldwide, we spend more than 3 billion hours a week playing video and computer games.  Approximately 26 million people harvest their virtual crops on FarmVille every day.  More than 5 million people play an average of 45 hours a week of games, and nearly one-third of high school students play 3 or more hours of video or computer games on an average school day. Given this fascination with games, adapting some of the same principles found in gaming for entertainment to gaming for education- “gamification”- offers tremendous potential to impact teaching and learning.

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How is education being disrupted by technology?

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MANILA, Philippines – In the past 10 years or so, we’ve witnessed a pace of disruption in education that’s unmatched in previous decades. 

Books, curriculums, and even teachers are rapidly being replaced or complemented by online resources and digital tools such as tablets and mobile phones.

Technology has always played a role in equipping students with timely skills and up-to-the minute ideas and discoveries. But now, we see innovations challenging even the very existence of four-walled classrooms and teacher-student ratios.

All of these benefit today and tomorrow’s students, as learning becomes cheaper, faster, and more accessible.

How is the digital revolution transforming students’ learning experiences today? Swipe or tap through our interactive gallery below. 

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The Ultimate Guide to Gamifying Your Classroom


No one wants to been seen as the stuffy teacher stuck in the past who lectures from the front of the classroom and doesn’t seem to care about student engagement. Students today are tech savvy and have wandering minds. They are able to process information coming at them from several channels at a time—walking, talking, and texting. Changing up how you deliver classroom content can keep kids’ attention, draw on their strengths, engage them as lifelong learners, and be amazingly fun. What is this magical method? It’s gamification, a word that, according to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary, wasn’t even in use until 2010.

What is Gamification in the Classroom?


Why Use Gamification in Education?

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Games and Culture

With the advent of video games, games have returned in full force as a cultural product, with more people in North America consuming video games than movies and music. In point of fact, 58% of Americans play video games, 45% of gamers are women, and 58% of parents play video games with their kids as a way to socialize with them (1). Games are part of the cultural landscape, and they aren’t going anywhere. While Classcraft isn’t a video game, it is inspired by them, and its power on learning is very similar.

Gamifying the Classroom

With that in mind, it makes sense to want to bring gaming into the classroom to ‘gamify’ learning. Teaching is all about relating to kids’ experiences and tying that to course matter. All kids have played video games – they understand the general rules and memes in gaming and enjoy playing them.


5 Ways To Gamify Your Classroom


Many of our students are among the 155 million Americans playing video games regularly, and you might be, too. That's a good thing. When my 11-year-old is playing video games, he’s using many skills – facts and information are tools to solve problems in context, and he gains actionable feedback he uses to win the game. When he fails to level up, he doesn’t give up, but continues playing until he progresses to the next level. He also seeks information online to help him find Easter eggs hidden throughout the game. He teaches his friends how to power up with each level of the game. Failure is a source of feedback and learning, collaboration is necessary, and learning and assessment are tightly integrated.

How can we use this pervasive and engaging gaming phenomenon to redesign and supercharge the learning experience?

Here are five ways to gamify your classroom to boost engagement, collaboration and learning:


The Gamification Guide For Teachers


How To Use Gamification In Education

Games get you going. They make you laugh and get you excited. They make you moan when you lose and cheer when you win. They can be played one against the other, group against group, human against computer, or all by your self. In addition, they inspire competition and grab attention. Games are fun and who doesn’t want to have fun while learning?

What Is Gamification?

Put simply, Gamification is the use of gaming principles in the field of education in order to get students involved, engaged, and excited about learning. Gamification introduces concepts like badges, levels, achievements, and game points to the classroom. Students are rewarded with these concepts when they succeed, but are not penalized when they don’t. By introducing a system of rewards without harsh penalties, students are not afraid to step outside of their comfort zone and fail. By removing their fear of failure we subconsciously encourage them to learn.

Gamification adds fun to the classroom by using what comes natural to humans – social play. Here are 6 ways to gamify your classroom.

6 Ways Gamify Your Classroom


A Practical Way To Apply Gamification In The Classroom


As a teacher in a public school in Thailand (English Program), I have read a lot about gamification. I haven’t noticed it before, but it is being used in our daily life in all sorts of ways. After a lot of reading, I tried to implement gamification in my classes. I would like to share with you this experience of applying gamification in the classroom; a very practical approach which costs nothing and the results are priceless.

Students today are digital natives; not like their digital immigrant teachers. On the plus side, this means that students interact with technology much better. On the down side, it means that they have very short spans of attention. This makes traditional teaching methods lacking the motivation incentive students may need to be motivated to learn.

As a science teacher, I have noticed that students lose their attention very quickly or seem to have no motivation to learn the curriculum's topics: That’s even before the mental challenges required by the science subject. After a lot of reading about young students’ habits and motivational methods, I have come across a new trend which kicked up all around the world into many fields such as business, industry, and marketing. Lately it has entered the education field and shows positive results.


Are Video Games the Future of Education?

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Game developers all over the country are working to align some educational games to Common Core State Standards, while educators and video game makers are seeing benefits in using games in a classroom context, despite concerns from administrators. This could be the golden age of educational video games.

“You’re going to see teachers and students build games together,” said EdTech insider Garrett Fuller at New York’s 10th Annual Comic-Con.

Fuller, a former teacher, is a journalist, and game developer within software configuration management, at TenTonHammer and respectively. He lead off the panel Games and Education, a professional development session for educators, at this year’s New York Comic-Con. 

The panel, also featuring presenters Sue Parler, Justin DeVoe, and Beverly Decker, brought teachers and video game designers together to show how next-generation technology is being adapted in classrooms as it educates K-12 learners, and helps students in their college careers as well. 

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12 Examples Of Gamification In The Classroom

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by Ryan Schaaf & Jack Quinn

Everyone loves games.

Albert Einstein himself indicated they are the most elevated form of investigation. He knew games are avenues for something deeper and more meaningful than a childish waste of time. Games promote situated learning, or in other words, learning that occurs in groups of practice during immersive experiences. Oftentimes, playing games are the first method children use to explore higher-order thinking skills associated with creating, evaluating, analyzing, and applying new knowledge.

See also 50 Questions To Help Students Think About What They Think

This article is written in two parts. The first, written by Ryan Schaaf, Assistant Professor of Technology at Notre Dame of Maryland University, introduces gamification in an educational context, its many elements, and some products that emulate gamified practices. The second part, shared by classroom teacher and coach Jack Quinn, provides a firsthand account with perspective from a gamified learning practitioner. Below are our combined insights.

Gamification In An Educational Context


What is Gamification and Why Use It in Teaching?


A few weeks ago The Innovative Instructor had an inquiry from a reader who wanted to offer an online gamified Gothic art history class and was looking for models. Today’s post seeks to provide information on gamification, why you might want to consider using it in your teaching, and how to go about implementing gamification.

Gamification is defined as the application of typical elements of game playing (rules of play, point scoring, competition with others) to other areas of activity, specifically to engage users in problem solving. [Wikipedia and Oxford Online Dictionary] It has been used in marketing, but also has applications in education. In addition to promoting specific learning gains, games are a form of active learning. In some cases gamification includes the use of badges – think scouting merit badges in digital form – to promote learning and recognize competencies (e.g., Khan Academy has a badging system).

My own introduction to gamification came last October when I attended the annual Educause conference. One of the keynote speakers was Jane McGonigal who has a Ph.D from UC Berkeley and is a world renowned game developer.  Her 2012 TEDGlobal talk has had 4.5 million views, and her website is a great place to start learning about the value of games. “She points out that we like people better if we’ve played a game with them; we bond and build trust. And contrary to popular thinking, she explains that games are not so much a tool for escapism but rather a way to use our best selves. Gamers are extremely productive and collaborative within the realm of a game.”  [Friedman, Stan. “Finding the Future: Inside NYPL’s All-Night Scavenger Hunt.” Library Journal. July 13, 2011.]


10 Specific Ideas To Gamify Your Classroom

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by Mike Acedo

In today’s classroom, educators are constantly required to mold their teaching methods to give students the best opportunity to succeed. It is not only imperative for students to learn the required material, but also critical that students gain a sense of confidence toward their work, and find motivation to expand their learning.

However, this can be difficult for some students, who may struggle in traditional, lecture-based class styles. For some students, finding the motivation to complete homework or prepare for class can be a constant struggle, especially when every effort is met with a poor grade or frustration from teachers and parents. Therefore, teachers must become more and more creative when motivating students to learn.

We’ve talked about designing your classroom like a video game before. Games are one motivator that almost all kids are responsive to. Many teachers have had the experience of asking students to stop playing games such as Angry Birds during class. However, it can be rationalized that games can be a very strong motivator for students when the same game elements are applied in an educational context. Thus, some educators have adopted the concept of Gamification, where the structure of gaming is applied to a non-game framework.

Though some teachers may use game-based learning, such as having students play games like Little Big Planet (featuring Sackboy, pictured above), Minecraft or Civilization to reinforce content, Gamification uses game elements such as challenges, feedback, levels, creativity, and rewards to motivate students to learn, and master concepts.

How To Gamify Your Classroom: 10 Specific Ideas To Get It Done


How Video Games In The Classroom Will Make Students Smarter


Around a billion and a half people all play video games of some sort. That’s more than 20% of the world’s population. Video games have become a part of life. They are now more than just leisure and entertainment. They are mainstream media, an everyday method of storytelling and representation. Games have become a common form of rhetoric for the 21st century.

Therefore, it is not surprising that educators, policy makers, investors, and developers are trying to build games for schools. However, the real reason game-based learning is so popular is not only because video games are extremely effective teaching tools; they are also relatively inexpensive to build and to distribute. In other words, they’re scalable, and replicable, and extensible, and all those other buzzwords that philanthropists, and venture capitalists, and policy makers like to hear. Video games have a lot going for them in a world that loves digital technologies and worships the concept of innovation.

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