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Gamification of Education: What, How, and Why Bother?

Games and game-like elements have invade the real world. This has been happening for years, and will only continue to grow, as wearable computing is projected to become a $1.5B business by 2014 and big players such as Google release their amazing augmented reality glasses in the upcoming year.  Now, ordinary folks can use any of the countless apps and websites that give real-world rewards and points for fitness, shopping, exercise, language learning and so on.

One of my main research areas attempts to use gamification, the incorporation of game elements into non-game settings, as a strategy to help schools face major problems around student motivation and engagement.  It seems like a perfect fit — as gamification, when designed and implemented properly, promotes a mastery orientation, engagement, creativity, persistence, and better classroom dynamics such as collaboration and teamwork.

Over the past couple years, I have explored the use of game principles in the classroom, both at the higher education level and in urban middle school science classrooms.  The results have been promising, although some of the issues that arise may be surprising to some educators.  I’ve published this work in a number of conferences, including the Games, Learning and Society conference.

If gamification is to be of use to schools, however, we must better understand what gamification is, how it functions, and why it might be useful.  In a journal article Jessica Hammer and I published in Academic Exchange Quarterly, we addresses all three questions – what, how, and why bother? – while exploring both the potential benefits and pitfalls of gamification of education.

Click here to read the article.

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