Game based learning is taking over our education industry, but it is not exactly revolutionary. If you take a look at any popular game and analyze the constituents that make it most enjoyable to players, it is usually an element of learning. There is a rush of achievement we gain from mastering rules and using them to lead a superior outcome. Even when we do not win the game, we observe our committed errors of inefficiency and notice in our competitors’ strategies and maybe weaknesses that we can use to our advantage. We learn while we play the game, and that mastery is what makes the challenge so enticing.
The gamification definition is the application of typical elements of game playing to other areas of activity, usually as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.
The brain enjoys progress. No matter what the subject matter is, our minds like grappling with new systems, creating new or using new routes within existing neural pathways. Educators and business leaders have realized more recently that if users so enjoy gamification, why limit the material absorbed to entertainment? Our brains are already working diligently to learn throughout the game, so why not use this opportunity to present education content and invite people to learn while they play.
Did you notice I gave business leaders credit for the development alongside educators? Education Gamification can harness an incredible potential for the power of global learning, but it is no stranger to profit. In the U.S. about 170 million people were playing video and computer game in 2008. They spent a record $11.7 billion that year. Now imagine the number of players engaged with our recent boom of app and mobile game developments. The gaming industry is on top, and it has room for education.
If you ever had a friend with a significant other who played World of Warcraft, you know the drama that is the addiction of a good game. World of Warcraft all but took over our adolescent-middle adult population with its ability to so deeply engage a consumer; the player was trading nights’ of sleep for screen time. The average time playing World of Warcraft consistently sat at 23 hours a week. Remember, that’s an average, many people are playing double or triple that amount of time.
Developers quickly realized that if a game can be created strategically enough to offer the most immersive and sufficiently challenging user experience, the user will keep providing. This is when education-minded individuals teamed up with entrepreneurial spirits to forge a path for gaming and education, together. Twenty-three hours might seem like a lot of time devoted to a game, but if it is a medical student avidly practicing virtual surgical procedures on patients in a game-like fashion, is there a benefit to the “play” time? We think so.
So what makes game-based learning so effective?
For most children growing up in the U.S., learning relied significantly on memorization. Lists, letters, times tables, and rules were constantly handed out to be memorized and retorted. In spaces of limited time, there is an element of motivation behind the need to memorize. More often, there is not a time constituent that is demanding enough to inspire the student to keep learning. Instead, they need to be brought into a virtual reality where like in real life, pressure is applied to situations and the brain must quickly deduce the facts to induce a correct response. Enter gaming.
Gaming creates effective and interactive experiences in which a student can be active and later apply to real-world situations and challenges. Strong games will often mirror real life enough so that the student can easily apply the knowledge acquired in the game to every day’s challenges. This is one of the most important elements a game: its similarity to real life. Strong UI and UX design teams are what make or break a successful education application.
Another useful aspect of gaming is its closeness to real life, but its consequence freedom in real life. Meaning, I might lose my game by crashing in the aircraft simulator. But I am not crashing in real life. I am still alive and intact, responsible for no passengers on board. Repetitive behavior in this type of simulated situation can help put the pilot at ease and able to make a calm, collected decision. In real life, that calmness will not be as generous, but if the student has practiced the behavior enough times, it will come naturally in a moment of panic. The lack of real consequence also allows the student to experiment with different methods of execution. They can virtually learn first-hand why some techniques do not work. Why some cause more complication than reward. Why others might be their personally best solution in a given situation. The virtual reality of gaming combined with educational environments offers the best practical experience to the student outside of the clinic or lab. It is immersive, hands-on, engaging enough to inspire repetition and challenging enough to invoke commitment to the learning process.
How we learn in the game is as important as is how we engage with the virtual experience interface.
Gamification in education is changing the way the next generation are willing to engage with new content. It is changing the way all of us engage with educational material. Compared to traditional training and hands-on training, game-based learning comes with the following advantages:
- Cost effective. Game based learning is the most cost effective educational tool we have yet encountered. It is available on any WiFi-equipped device, most of which are available to the masses at an affordable, low price. Hands on training provides a similar outcome as far as product knowledge and function expertise, but it is so expensive that not everyone can afford this type of training.
- Low physical risk. As mentioned, games allow for simulations to mirror reality without any real-life risk. Although hands-on approaches instill significant knowledge in the student, there is exceptional risk at hand in every trial. Traditional classroom and online learning is safe, but its effectiveness is far inferior to the engagement of games.
- Standardized assessments for peer comparisons. Gaming allows for a social sphere to surface that suspends the usual limits of our classrooms for comparison. Students can learn and measure results against students from anywhere, at any age, and see how they are developing in particular subject matters. If schooling is not difficult enough to inspire growth in a student, gaming allows this person to engage with higher intellect in the virtual space and to improve their skills accordingly. Traditional learning allows a much smaller, more limited scope for comparison and hands-on training usually, involves none. Hands-on is set up more like an apprenticeship with some undeniable advantages, but there is little opportunity to check and balance one’s rate of growth against fellow learners.
- High engagement. Games are as engaging as hands-on training. Developers have found precise ways to manipulate playing fields so that the user feels constantly involved, challenged and wanting to learn more. The more involved the student is, the more attention they can give the subject, the more likely they are to follow along and the more they are going to learn, just by remaining engaged. Gaming provides this pathway all the while leading the player to conquer a challenge that leaves them inspired, educated and wanting to play more.
- Tailored learning pace. We all know that the classroom and traditional learning methods do not follow a timeline that is conducive to all students. More than ever, students are diverse and on pathways that we recognize as needing particular subsets to gainfully educate them along the way. Gaming caters the learning process to every single student. It allows for the one-on-one pace needed in the traditional setting that is just too expensive and too impractical to implement. The tailored learning pace makes it easy for the student to grasp information when there are ready, re-read and revisit information as many times as needed, and to grow without feeling the pressure of time constraints. Students are free to spend as much time as necessary to grasp concepts and take away valuable learnings.
- Immediate feedback. One of the best elements of gaming is the immediate feedback. You can probably remember when you were in school and got exams or homework back, only to see that you have red circles indicating wrong answers. By the time you can review on your own and make it back to the teacher to ask for more information on the red penning, you’ve likely lost interest or forgotten what your brain was thinking while coming up with the wrong answer that you wrote down. Worse, if you got a grade that was high enough to pass the course, you probably failed to follow up on the wrong answer at all. In gaming, it isn’t just about a score sufficient enough to get to the next level. It is about mastering a level so expertly that you get to enter a new realm. Right away, games reveal wrong answers. You are either prompted to go back to the start of the level or given the correct answer to the problem with a solid, understandable explanation. The game encourages you to learn everything along the path, not just enough to get by.
- Transfer of practice to the real world. Advancements in technology have allowed developers to build simulated experiences that scarily mimic the real world. Virtual reality can feel more real to us at the time than actuality- it is incredible. By creating an experience that is so similar to real life, gamers can easily transfer knowledge absorbed, and skills practiced in the game to the real matter at hand in their job or educational field. Transferring knowledge and skills has been one of the biggest feats of our education system. You often hear that a college major does not matter or that students graduate still knowing very little about the tangible applications of their industry. Gaming breaks down that wall between the two worlds, offering players a glimpse into the reality that they will soon face. A hands-on approach to learning provides the same benefit, and possibly to a greater extent, but it does not offer as many additional benefits as does game-based education.
- Active engagement. Being active while learning gives students a sense of purpose and a real need to follow and complete challenges. When the success of the lesson is in their hands, engagement spikes through the roof. In traditional learning, students are merely asked to follow along. Engagement is responsive, not active. Take for example a reluctant reader who enters the world of historical fiction. The reader is prompted to determine on the protagonist’s behalf where the story should go. When they make an incorrect historical choice, the reader is prompted to go back to the beginning. Now that reluctant reader needs to re-read all of the information, practice reading while paying closer attention to the details so that when prompted again, they can make the correct, historical choice for the protagonist and eventually “win” the game.
As digital games become more accessible around the globe, the effectiveness of their educational service will also increase. Keeping consumers actively engaged will continue to supersede the traditionally passive classroom approach. Although gaming in our foreseeable future is a supplementary learning tool, we should all be in store for a real shift in our approach to education. Will active learning become the norm in the classroom? Will gaming override standard memorization? The intersection of activity and passivity in our learning will be one of the most exciting and life-changing shifts to watch throughout the coming decades.
As we make advancements in education, companies in every industry are adopting gaming as a way to engage their most active and their most reluctant employees. Online courses no longer face the limits of reading and answering quiz questions. Users are engaged, challenged, and constantly seeking new ways to learn more. If you want to learn more about educational gamification or any other digital applications (like online scheduling software and appointment scheduling software) to make your brand stand out, get in touch with Appointment-Plus. Whether you need an appointment calendar to keep shifts and employees in line or a complete makeover to automate the majority of your business, we have everything you need!