How could gamification make education more attractive?

Gamification in Education

Digitization and mechanization processes are also increasingly noticeable in educational contexts. Not only do learning processes change, but also learning motives and needs.

By Karolina Kaczmarczyk

How play changes learning

Where back then, explicit front-end learning in the formal context was the main idea of ​​absorbing new information, nowadays the technical support of didactic methods and, above all, the transfer of knowledge to a variety of contexts play an important role. Gamification approaches in particular are now part of the context-independent knowledge transfer.


"Gamification is the use of game design elements in non-game contexts" (Sebastian Deterding). Rules-based parts of the game and game mechanics are taken over into real life and players are rewarded with the help of points - pointsification - or other ratings, among other things. The aim of gamification as an instrument is above all the implementation and initiation of behavioral changes (Stampfl, 2012). These selected game elements subconsciously creep into people's worlds and influence users and consumers to such an extent that entertainment serves as the main aspect, but competitiveness still has a certain focus. The users want to be better and better and to prove themselves in the services provided. Life becomes a daily challenge and so trivial things in life seem less of a nuisance. Psychological approaches trigger certain human characteristics, such as envy or ambition, which in a certain way lead to permanent tension (Stampfl, 2012). Due to the ubiquity of game elements in everyday life, the boundaries between virtuality and analog life are increasingly blurring, resulting in an augmented reality (Stampfl, 2012).

"Although we classify computer games as virtual events, they give us real agency: they allow us to act directly on a virtual world, we are allowed to do something that feels rich because it produces recognizable results" (MCGonigal, 2012). Games encourage you to be more productive and to deal more intensively with action. This virtual productivity should be maintained with the help of the transfer of game elements into real life (McGonigal, 2012). In this way, clear goals and levels are created, which in retrospect lead to a specific action. Meanwhile, leveling up increases the motivation to solve increasingly demanding tasks. So it can happen that this process is more exciting for the player than the result itself: “Computer games make it possible to perceive a variety of roles and functions that otherwise remain closed - the limits of one's own ego can extend to a life that goes beyond“ real ”life , should not be stretched as far as possible ”(McGonigal, 2012). Permanent feedback loops, clear goals and rules maintain commitment and can lead to problem solutions in everyday life (Stampfl, 2012). Above all, it is important to have a coherent structure, easy viewing of the results and easy use of the gamification elements. Accordingly, gamification approaches should be simple and usable for everyone and lead to committed and improved behavior in offline life with an extension in online life.

Gamification and formal learning contexts

"In other words, with games, learning is the drug" (Koster, 2005). The didactic synthesis between computer games and educational contexts, for example with the help of serious games or digital game-based learning, should facilitate learning and lead to greater learning success through customization. Although games are always part of different learning contexts in a certain way, the conscious use of playful potential is often very rare. Therefore, the question now arises of how exactly mastering the game should promote learning success in real life and how game elements can be integrated into learning scenarios.

In practice, however, there is a certain gap between knowledge about the use of gamification approaches in educational contexts. To provide an overview, two teachers were interviewed who had contrasting experiences and knowledge in this area. As a teacher, trainer and author, Tobias Hübner is committed to ensuring that children not only consume media, but also understand them and use them for their own purposes. The mini-computer Rasberry Pi and games like Minecraft serve to arouse the desire to program and make children fit in dealing with media. Daniel Schalow, a math and philosophy teacher at the Otto Hahn Gymnasium in Monheim, contrasts with Mr. Huebner. Mr. Schalow sees the improvement of the lessons primarily in the promotion of the student-teacher relationship and in conveying the professional passion.

In order to first examine the general situation, well-known gamification approaches in school systems were discussed in order to answer the question of the extent to which these could be anchored in the German curriculum. Both sides found that further developed approaches, apart from competitions and the general awarding of grades, are hardly known up to now and are therefore not to be found in the German curriculum. Then the subjective opinion should be determined and the potentials as well as the limits of the ludification should be weighed. "I think that teachers in general can learn a lot from computer games - especially from the way in which they manage to motivate players," says Tobias Hübner. He emphasizes the transfer of the analysis of games to teaching: which skills should the game and the player bring with them? “Teachers also have to ask themselves these questions when preparing their lessons, at least if you replace“ game ”with“ lesson ”and“ player ”with“ pupil ”. There is potential to improve teaching in general and to make it more attractive. Gamification does not necessarily have to be digital, gamification methods can also be used in analogue and this has been happening unconsciously for a long time. ”These analogue methods include games for grouping or learning names. However, according to Mr. Schalow, the most important approach to improving the quality of teaching is to promote the teacher-student relationship. Gamification in the classroom “like many other things goes in the opposite direction and seeks its salvation in didactics, and only there. I therefore see a fundamental problem in the direction in which the use of "computers" "develops" the lessons. "

This leads to a certain dichotomy, which affects not only didactic forms of teaching, but also learning from a student's perspective and the associated motivation. If pupils are rewarded with points for little things according to a ludified approach, the extrinsic reward is forced to be higher than the intrinsic motivation. So do playful approaches actually lead to learning success or do they primarily present problems? “As a teacher, I can only approach that if the beauty of a (learning) object is seen by the students. That means I can only hope through the technical passion, ancient Greek: the eros, which I convey to the student in the classroom in a functioning teacher-student relationship with regard to the subject matter, that the respective student gets involved in the material, in a relationship goes to him and then allows himself to be intrinsically motivated. (...) extrinsic motivation is not bad per se. A good Abitur for choosing a course of study can be a good motivation, ”asserts Daniel Schalow. Tobias Hübner also sees gamification only as a trick, but not as an educational panacea in education. This kind of manipulation of the learner was discussed in behavioristic approaches a long time ago. Because as soon as the inner drive to want to understand a topic, be it mathematics or Latin, does not exist, it cannot be awakened by elements similar to "World Of Warcraft". It is precisely this individuality of the skills and knowledge of the individual students that plays a major role for Mr. Hübner when it comes to the question of whether a specific evaluation system is still sustainable in times of inclusion and digitization. “I [also] don't think that it can be done entirely without ratings. The question is how to develop exciting, substantial and sustainable learning scenarios that are not based on drill and the fear of a lack of recognition. It is important that evaluations always take place individually and evaluate individual progress instead of being based on an average measure that is imposed on everyone. ”Daniel Schalow also notices that it does not the There is a good teaching system, but here too the teacher-student relationship is an important factor for the evaluation, as it is maintained in every system.

There is a certain contradiction in the opinions expressed on the subject of gamification in education. Nevertheless, there is agreement that there must always be a certain interest in the subject, which can then be promoted individually so that the teacher-student relationship serves as a starting point for successful learning, with or without ludified approaches.



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