Gamification allows us to enhance our knowledge and enhance our basic soft skills like multi-tasking, collaborating, creative thinking and committing to a goal.
In 2002, the word gamification was coined as a way to describe the incorporation of game-thinking and game-mechanisms to solve real world problems. Companies like Duolingo, the second language learning app, turned learning language into a competition amongst friends and strangers.
Users of e-learning platforms like Duolingo become engrossed in earning badges and leveling up, sometimes losing sight of what skill theyâ€™re gaining in the process.
Someone with a fixed mindset may think, I could never learn French, I just donâ€™t have what it takes. While someone with a growth mindset may think, well I donâ€™t know French yet, but if I study everyday for six-months Iâ€™ll get there.
Gaming and the Growth Mindset
According to Dr. Jane McGonigal, there are four characteristics of gamers seen across the board. I believe they showcase why gamification is such a promising avenue for developing a growth mindset.
- Urgent optimism (they believe every challenge is worth tackling)
- Social relationships (they build collaborations and trust with other players because they all abide by the same rules and have the same goals)
- Blissful productivity (happy to work hard all the time as long as itâ€™s towards the right goals and consists of the right kind of work)
- Epic meaning (they are attached to missions with meaning and big stories, they are working on something bigger than themselves)
We can surmise that Dr. McGonigal believes that video games arenâ€™t just for nerds hiding in their parents basements. And I agree.
Here are five ways gamification can help develop a growth mindset.
One of the toughest obstacles teachers face is keeping students engaged. You could have the most exciting topic in the world to discuss but if you fail at delivery, well, you might as well be talking about how to make tea water.
So what gamification enables instructors to do is completely and totally engross their students in subject matter by making learning visible, fun and socially interactive.
Gamification platforms – if developed correctly – can also meet the student where they are in the learning process. This kind of tailored education is the perfect way to prevent students from the frustration of unnecessary challenge and the boredom from not being challenged enough.
They set their own pace which allows them to visualize success without feeling overwhelmed.
2. Progress Mechanics
E-learning gamification relies on video game like metrics of progress. Who doesnâ€™t like to earn gold stars or get a badge of honor for completing a mission? Leadership boards, points and badges encourage learners to strive for their goals because the reward is two-fold: bragging rights and learning a new skill.
Take the site NerdFitness for example. Founder, Steve Kamb, married fitness with his love for video games into a program that motivates people to take control of their health and their lives. You can join a supportive community where you earn experience points and level up as you get in shape. Sounds like a win-win to me.
Gamification in e-learning allows us to enhance our knowledge and enhance our basic soft skills like multi-tasking, collaborating, creative thinking and committing to a goal, all while operating in a safe environment.
3. Social Relationships
Ananth Pai, an elementary school teacher, ditched the standard reading and math curriculum for a gamified version. Results showed that students jumped from a below 3rd grade reading level to a mid-4th grade reading level.
In just eighteen weeks.
When the kids were asked what they thought about the new way of learning they said two things. Learning is fun and learning is multiplayer.
These comments speak volumes. Now, instead of trying to stay awake in class, kids were excited to take part and couldnâ€™t wait for the next challenge to face together. And, the kids were excited to be a part of a team while problem solving to win the game (learn the lesson).
Collaboration is important. Itâ€™s through teamwork that students can hear and test many different perspectives; they can contribute and get instant feedback and they can begin to understand that not everyone will take the same avenue to get from point A to point B – and thatâ€™s okay.
Which leads us to number 4.
4. Encourage Creative Exploration
Youâ€™ve probably heard people say, think outside of the box. There is nothing more creative than navigating unfamiliar territory to find a viable way to the finish line.
Creativity can be learned like a skill and the safer students feel exploring that facet of themselves, the stronger the skill will become and the more resourceful and innovative the student.
Gamification of e-learning allows players (students) to find a unique solution to a problem, increases the frequency of problem solving, improves focus and shows what potential accomplishments can be reached if they take risks.
5. Learn From Mistakes
Lastly, one of the biggest life lessons anyone can learn is this: itâ€™s okay to make mistakes. In fact, itâ€™s preferable. If you never make mistakes you can never learn which leads to the fixed mindset of, â€œI know what I knowâ€.
In a gaming environment a player is constantly challenged to grow and adapt as the game progresses. There are basic rules to the game but the player can often achieve goals they didnâ€™t even know were possible until they were faced with the decision to forge ahead or bow out. Taking risks in a virtual world helps lessen the downside of intellectual risk-taking for learners.
Gamification provides users with the freedom to fail. A world in which they know if they have a setback – like they donâ€™t beat a level – they can try again until they succeed. This lesson transfers to real life by showing students itâ€™s okay to fail all they have to do is get up and try again.
So take risks. Make mistakes. Acknowledge your mistakes and reflect on them. Then learn from them and let the games begin!