Gamification has revolutionized the way the world approaches education, transforming traditional classrooms into dynamic and immersive learning environments. In this blog, we’ll explore the concept of gamification in education, delving into the design principles of a gamified classroom at International School Bangkok (ISB). Throughout, we'll hear directly from the students who have experienced this innovative approach to learning.
The Basics of Gamification
Gamification is more than just turning lessons into games; it's a strategic approach to enhance engagement, ownership, and motivation. By incorporating game design elements and game thinking into the learning process, educators create an environment where students are not just passive participants but active, motivated learners who chart their own path through the curriculum. The benefits are abundant, including increased participation, improved agency, and a more enjoyable learning experience.
In a gamified classroom, game elements such as experience points (XP), badges, leaderboards, guilds and challenges are seamlessly integrated into the curriculum. This approach taps into the natural human inclination for competition, achievement, autonomy, mastery, and purpose, making the learning journey more exciting and fulfilling.
Designing a Gamified Classroom at ISB
In a gamified classroom, learning objectives and assignments are transformed into quests, and outcomes become achievements. Students embark on a journey where each lesson contributes to their overall progress, fostering a sense of purpose and direction. Here is a look at how a gamified High School (HS) elective classroom at ISB looks:
A Game World or Theme
A gamified classroom often adopts a theme or narrative, turning mundane subjects into epic adventures. The game world adds an immersive layer to the learning experience. For example, At ISB, Mr. Ram, the HS Computing teacher, uses The Matrix as the theme for his class. It is based on the philosophy that you must take control of your own destiny, inspired by both the Matrix movie and the book Drive by Daniel Pink.
Game Mechanics and Dynamics
Game mechanics, such as timed challenges, leveling up, and side quests keep students engaged, motivated, and gives them a greater sense of autonomy and agency. These elements introduce an element of fun and unpredictability to the learning process, encouraging students to think critically and creatively. At ISB, this looks like:
- Daily assignments become quests to be completed throughout the game that prepare students for the culminating challenge.
- These quests earn the student rewards in the form of crypto currency that can then be redeemed at The Store for class perks and real life rewards such as going to watch IASAS, or study for another class or to retest for a Bossfight.
- Summative Assessments become Bossfights, a culminating activity or challenge that translates to their performance grades.
- As part of the game, every student has a certain amount of health, a reflection of their Habits and Attitude towards Learning (HAL) grades.
- Certain actions can negatively affect the students’ health in the game, such as being late to class or not turning in assignments on time. This then leads to lower rate of crypto generation and thereby a loss of buying power.
- The system itself is informed by feedback from students in the class and so in this way it’s very personalized to the behaviors, needs, and desires of the students.
- Additionally, students can go into the Brain Forest where they get to work on a side project of their choice.
Progress Tracking and Rewards
"I love seeing my progress on the leaderboard," says Nathan, a high school student. Progress tracking allows students to monitor their growth, while rewards, such as in-game currency, provide tangible recognition for their efforts. These incentives create a sense of achievement and pride in academic accomplishments. They also teach students life lessons, for example you have to maintain your health to succeed and take control of your future. Another key lesson involved in the progress tracking and leaderboards is that students can visually see the representation of each individual's journey and learn that they should only compare themselves to others based on their experience levels and not their accomplishments.
Student Feedback and Adjustments
Constant feedback loops ensure that the gamified classroom remains effective and responsive to student needs. Educators can adapt the game elements based on student performance and preferences, creating a dynamic and evolving learning environment. For example, Mr. Ram, the HS Computing teacher, regularly surveys students asking for their feedback, evaluations, and opinions on a variety of topics including improvements to the Matrix. Some student suggestions for improvement have included adding maps, stories, and more fun things they can buy with their crypto. Below is a word cloud of student feedback on The Matrix:
Experiencing Gamified Learning at ISB
Learning comes first, and the game is actually auxiliary to the learning, but this structure makes the learning more fun and empowers our students to take ownership of their own learning. Just listen to what our students have to say about it:
Watch our students giving an L2 Talk about Gamification to teachers at the L2Asia Teaching Conference:
Students at ISB, needless to say, thoroughly enjoy this style of learning and excitedly anticipate Mr. Ram’s class each week. We asked a few of them what the class is like and here’s what they had to say:
“I’d say the most fun part about it so far is the fact that I can just work and I can reap the rewards of that and I can strategize on how I can make more and get more rewards as I do it…and its just a fun environment, but at the same time you can’t be slacking or else you’re kinda screwed” - Mikhail.
“For most classes, it’s just like, you sit through a lesson and then you do the work, there’s no room for you to move ahead or if you are behind, there’s no room for you to like catch up. Because it is self-paced you are able to work on it at home if you have to and you’re able to just move at your own pace like if you need a break you’re able to take a break and then you’re able to speed up through if you want to. He [Mr. Ram] makes it really clear when I need to be aware and I find that really helpful and I feel it’s more organized” - Heidi.
“While there is a scoreboard, it’s not that competitive in a sense…the competitiveness is with yourself more instead of like with other people” - Mikhail
“My favorite part about the class is the freedom you have in it, so you don’t really feel pressured by the teacher until of course that part where you’re falling behind where there’s the “slowpoke indicator…it’s basically, even though you can all work on your own pace, there are going to be points where you have to be at a certain part at a certain time so that you’re not just slacking off in class” - Mindi.
“I prefer the openness because then everyone can be at a different point in the class and they’re still on track technically, like everyone can learn at their own style and if you finish early you can actually help them move forward” - Andrew.
Future of Gamified Education
As technology continues to evolve, so does the potential for gamified education. The adaptability of gamification allows for personalized learning journeys tailored to individual student needs and preferences. The future of education may very well be a gamified one, where students eagerly anticipate each learning adventure. The elements of play and competition that are infused into the learning experience in a gamified classroom enable students to level up their learning to new levels of engagement and enthusiasm. By harnessing the power of gamification at ISB, we are creating classrooms where students not only learn but thrive, building a foundation for a lifelong love of leveling up learning.
Experience firsthand the excitement of learning in an environment where every day is an adventure, and education becomes a lifelong quest. In Mr. Ram’s words, "Decode your destiny: The Matrix awaits you." Don't miss out on the opportunity to level up your learning, and join us on this extraordinary educational adventure. Apply today!