The Power of Playfulness – Gamification as Learning Tool

Gateway High School > Pedagogy > The Power of Playfulness – Gamification as Learning Tool

Most people realize that serious academic success is not “all fun and games,” but some current research suggests that games can play a valuable role in the learning process. Gateway High School encourages innovation and modernizing the curriculum; teachers complete professional development every year and are always learning new ways to engage students.  One of the most interesting and promising developments within the last few years is game-based learning. The “gamification” of our classrooms can have a positive impact on our students’ achievements if used responsibly, and there are a number of promising studies that support this notion.

With our students learning through a virtual environment this Fall, Gateway has an excellent opportunity to implement game-based learning in an engaging, innovative manner. There is no reason that learning can’t be fun; conversely, it should be challenging, rewarding, and fun. When we encourage students to be playful as they learn, we can transform our digital learning platform into something much less sterile and impersonal.


What Are The Benefits of Game-Based Learning?

 Professor René Proyer, a psychologist at MLU, recently explained that people who are naturally playful “have an eye for detail, easily adopt new perspectives and can make a monotonous task interesting for them.” Proyer outlined these findings in a recent study published in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. A South Korean study from 2011 also found that students were more motivated and engaged through game-based learning strategies.

Another  article published by EdSurge explored the benefits of video games when helping students develop social-emotional learning skills (SEL). A further article showed how student-teacher collaboration increases dramatically when educators use tools like Minecraft: Education Edition to promote learning. Judging by the wealth of practical evidence and scientific research that surrounds this topic, it is clear that playfulness can be a very powerful asset in the classroom.


Are Some Students Naturally More Playful Than Others?

 In the study conducted by MLU, researchers classified playfulness as a personality trait that is expressed differently based on each student, and they proposed that some students are naturally more playful than others. The study also determined that playfulness can be trained, and this is an incredibly encouraging notion from an educational standpoint.

By encouraging individuals to be more playful in their everyday lives, Proyer was able to encourage and “unlock” higher levels of playfulness. This subsequently led to all the benefits mentioned above, including higher levels of engagement and a general sense of well-being. By encouraging the “gamification” of our learning environment in the future, Gateway can boost the learning potential of our students.


What Are The Best Ways to “Gamify” Our Virtual Classrooms?

 With so many students learning remotely from their computers, it has never been a better time to implement game-based learning. A significant number of our students are extremely familiar with video games, and educators can easily put an educational “spin” on these virtual activities. Examples of teachers using Minecraft and other video games have shown how effective these virtual activities can be.

Game-based learning doesn’t have to revolve around students’ favorite video games. Educators could simply structure the learning process in a way that mimics a game. For example, an instructor might build lesson plans with game-based learning in mind by planning ways for students to “level up” and “unlock” new skills and resources.

The International Society for Technology in the Classroom (ISTC) offers a list of ways to incorporate gamification in the virtual learning environment. With approval, Gateway High teachers may wish to explore some of these games to make lessons more interactive, competitive, and fun. Some free and easy to use resources include: FlipGrid, a free video and remote learning platform instructors can use for everything from video introductions, bingo and other old-school games.

We already know that maintaining student engagement is one of the biggest concerns with remote learning. Gamification and playfulness could be an excellent solution for Gateway High School, and it is another example of how we are striving to modernize our educational process.