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How Educational Leaders Can Use Gamification Technology

Even before they enter a K-12 classroom, children use or encounter an array of devices and software. From watching movies on a tablet to playing games on a smartphone, students expect their learning experience to be as engaging as the time spent with technology.

While educators may not be able to recreate the excitement a child feels dancing to “Baby Shark,” there are plenty of opportunities for teachers to transform their traditional lessons through gamification. Graduates of the online Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Educational Technology Leadership program from the University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM) obtain the skills they need to apply new media and technology to successfully achieve their instruction goals.

Integration of Gamification Technology in Education

When educators practice gamification, they introduce a game into an activity that would not inherently involve those elements. This idea is nothing new — teachers have placed kids into groups for trivia competitions and rewarded the winners long before the first PlayStation model was released.

What makes gamification more relevant today is how educators introduce video games and other web-based tools to enhance their students’ learning experience. This strategy, which often inserts educational material into an existing video game world, is often called game-based learning.

The gamification movement in education mirrors trends in other industries, especially regarding customer loyalty programs used by clothing companies and restaurants. As Edutopia points out, corporations reward their customers for spending money and time on apps by issuing discounts, store credit and other membership benefits.

Now, educators are embracing similar ideas by giving students more agency to explore course material in a format different from a traditional classroom lesson. Like the customer loyalty programs, successful gamification allows every pupil to become a “winner” if they decide to fully participate in the game and use it to achieve their educational goals.

Strategies for Gamification and Instructional Technology

Educators can choose from a variety of options when selecting online games appropriate for the subject matter and grade level. Khan Academy remains popular for middle and high schoolers looking to master science and math concepts, while Minecraft: Education Edition places students of all ages into premade worlds featuring educational puzzles and in-game achievements. To supplement what students are experiencing in the game, many ask their students to recap what they learned on whiteboards or demonstrate a lesson to the class.

Teachers can take steps to ensure that prizes for successful gameplay supplement the student’s preferred learning style. For example, middle and high school educators can offer study passes for students who complete a specific number of quizzes in Khan Academy. Other educators may provide homework passes to students or the ability to skip a comprehension quiz if they’ve completed enough tasks related to the curriculum.

Educators should also take lessons from the corporate world to ensure their students remain engaged with the games they offer. Competitions shouldn’t be stretched over time, or students will lose interest. Goals should be clear from the beginning, so students know exactly what to do to obtain a reward.

Finally, educators must pay close attention to how students respond to the game and its content to ensure they’re not overwhelmed by gamification elements. If frustrations with a video game world or a quiz platform detract from a student’s learning experience, it may be time to return to more traditional instructional time.

Earn an Advanced Educational Technology Leadership Degree With ULM

As part of ULM’s online M.Ed. in Educational Technology Leadership program, students complete courses like Utilization of Instructional Technologies, which offers an overview of technology-based instruction materials and computer software. Meanwhile, the Design and Development of Multimedia and Interactive Instruction course gives educators experience researching, designing and implementing instructional units using multimedia elements and online tools.

Graduates leave the program prepared to implement gamification strategies in the classroom and boost their students’ academic achievement.

Learn more about the University of Louisiana Monroe’s online Master of Education in Educational Technology Leadership program.

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