Let’s be honest. Games are super fun. I like them. I’m sure you like them too, reader. But when played in the classroom, sometimes, most of the time, they don’t look like ‘conventional teaching’.
And that is a good thing.
As most of the readings on gamification state, using games in education is not a novelty. Educators all over the world have been using educational games for decades in order to engage their students. I remember when I used to teach English to adults back in the start of my career, the one thing that would get my class going at at 8pm was a quick language game. There was this competitive streak, innate to all human beings, to participate, learn quickly and beat the other opponent/team. It was awesome. And whether I did it for a short time at the beginning to get everyone going or as a formative assessment to check how much they had acquired, everyone had fun and that was my main goal.
Enter 21st century technology. Back then, the only technology I used for gaming was flyswatters on a whiteboard, where students had to swat the past participle of an irregular verb I called out… I’m literally laughing out loud as I remember how awesome it was 🙂
Gaming in classrooms, especially one-to-one environments, cannot escape the use of gaming for learning. There is so much out there that engages students of all ages! It also allows students to acquire skills that make them feel successful. For instance, an ELL playing PopWords against an opponent in his class or anywhere else in the world, doesn’t have to worry about making mistakes with a word they don’t know. Rather they get to explore the different ways they can form words, and when they form a word they don’t know, they quickly learn it in order to use it in the future and become ‘better’ at playing the game. It’s a win, win situation.
Although this might be a very simple way of looking at gamification for education as I know there are all sorts of games out there that reinforce all kinds of learning in all subjects, I think the most important aspect of gaming is the engagement of our learners. If a game can present students with situations where they have to think in different ways, see things from different perspectives, use diverse problem-solving skills and challenge themselves to learn new things, I can certainly see the relevance, or even importance of gaming in any classroom.