Education

K-12 and Gamification: An Evolving Alliance

By September 18, 2016 No Comments

It is Ms. Kathryn Murphy’s sixth period middle school class of math in Houston, TX. All her students are desperately eyeing the clock on the wall. It is a well-encountered scenario for students to have a lazy demeanor toward the end of the day, but the atmosphere here is pleasantly electric.

All students are wishing for more time.

Kathryn’s trick? She’s incorporated a veritable way of instruction into her lessons that looks like more of a game. Her narrative is simple and direct. She intends to help her students find their way toward a better understanding of fractional relationships “one bounce” at a time.

With the help of smart tablets, she directs her students through a number line that makes them “navigate” bouncing balls to the correct spot in a maze. Not only this, there’s a green light that beeps secret messages and a QR code that directs players to markers that unlock new routes.

Kathryn is no outlier. Over the past years, the sheer proliferation and pervasion of mobile devices and wearables has led to an explosion of gamification―wherein game-based learning techniques are used to inspire children to master academic subjects.

As George Bernard Shaw once said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Today’s K-12 students represent a digital generation, and it is no surprise that they gravitate toward gadgets and games.

What Is Gamification?

Gamification incorporates various game design elements and techniques that engage students through smartphones, tablets and laptops as they solve academic problems. It makes use of game features such as points, tiered levels, leaderboard rewards and badges to up the fun factor in education. However, a reliable Wi-Fi infrastructure is necessary for educators who want to make the most of available online resources and opportunities for student development.

5 Ways by Which Gamification Changes the Dynamics of K-12

As a craft that involves fun and engages children in elements that can be adapted to real-world productive activities, gamification is changing the dynamics of a traditional class setting in the following five ways.

Brings a Class Closer. Gamification is essentially changing the social dynamics of a class. It brings the class together as one builds new connections. While children work on a game setting together, they learn each other’s name faster, learn more about each other and start hanging out with a group outside the game.

Involves Progress and Tracking. The grouping as a process itself underpins the premise of representation, which involves tracking, interpreting and presenting the overall picture/narrative that helps users to track progress, receive feedback and benchmark themselves.

Personalized Learning Pathway. When a student plays a game, he will continue doing so until he gets it right. This leads to improvement as the students get more engaged, and there is a personalized learning pathway set out for each child.

Rewards. Teachers can present random rewards or pleasant surprises when a user reaches a milestone or level or achievement. This keeps the engagement interesting and brings variety.

Social Sharing. Feelings such as gifting, sharing and helping spread under the wider ambit of continuous engagement and breed positive reinforcement among children.

Bandwidth considerations most often influence consumption and production of these learning resources. Also, the availability of Wi-Fi determines which online content, applications and functionality students and educators are able to effectively incorporate or use in their classroom setting. As gamification in K-12 becomes more common, a robust Wi-Fi infrastructure will become critical to the success of any such digital learning initiative.

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