Exploring the Power of Play-Learning: How Gamification and Game-Based Learning are Revolutionizing Education
Understanding the key differences and benefits for modern education
Although they are two elements that complement each other, gamification and game-based learning are different concepts. Game-based learning refers to the use of games to improve students' educational experience, implementing real challenges that help individuals develop specific skills. Gamification, on the other hand, refers to the broader approach of combining playful aspects and education, using some typical game features as an additional boost for mnemonic stimulation.
The gamification of the educational experience has gained increasing importance following the digital revolution, which has acted as a real accelerator of the process. The modern frontiers of entertainment now offer innovative educational opportunities, allowing for greater student engagement in acquiring new content. Game-based learning has been further enhanced by the extraordinary situation experienced during the pandemic, which has created a greater need for technological tools to implement remote learning.
In fact, both realities have roots that predate postmodernity. To cite a relatively recent example, Maria Montessori, who lived between the late 19th century and the mid-1950s, an icon of pedagogy, understood the importance of playfulness in the education of children from their earliest months of life, as they build both their knowledge and character. Gamification, therefore, rests on solid theoretical pillars of psychopedagogy, also presenting guidelines for the use of play as a teaching method.
Why gamification is the key to developing transversal skills in modern education
But why has gamification experienced such great success? Through both technological and analog games, this teaching method offers numerous advantages, fostering the development of those very same transversal skills that perfectly align with the modern concept of education.
In particular, there are some clear opportunities offered by this type of teaching:
- The empowerment of students in the learning process. When it comes to supervised play, the educator's only task is to prevent students from adopting counterproductive or even harmful approaches. The downsizing of the teacher's role thus brings the student back to the center of the learning process;
- The implementation of learn by doing, or "learning by doing". Through the playful aspect, as already anticipated by Dr. Montessori, children and young people can reach conclusions without them being handed down from above;
- The development of time and resource management skills in view of a goal outside of a purely performance or evaluation logic. If the student is placed in a game context, they feel motivated to achieve the goal without the pressure of the consequences of their mistakes;
- The introduction to the world of team work, or group work oriented towards collaboration. Cooperation is fundamental in education based on team games, as it invites students to apply the most functional social mechanisms to achieve the goal;
- The possibility of enhancing peer-to-peer teaching, in which students learn from each other. This type of teaching relieves the judgment of a superior, allowing the individual greater freedom of expression, even when it comes to doubts or difficulties encountered.
Techniques widely used in education
But what does applying gamification in practice mean? Let's explore this through some examples of techniques that are already widespread in the educational world.
The power of quizzes for dynamic and transversal knowledge acquisition
One of the most classic examples of gamification is proposing quizzes to students, to be completed both individually and in groups. To prepare this type of activity, questions are created, possibly with multiple-choice answers, establishing the mechanisms that the game will follow, which could, for example, be based on reserving the turn to answer (enhancing speed of reasoning) or alternating between teams. The advantages offered by quizzes include setting up a healthy competition, allowing the use of acquired knowledge in a dynamic and transversal way.
Using cooperative challenges to promote problem-solving and teamwork skills in the classroom
If you want to go beyond the competitive aspect and instead promote cooperation and problem-solving skills, you can opt for cooperative challenges. As proposed by various video games and board games, students will be called upon to solve a problem through teamwork, aligning the strengths of each member. Typical examples of these challenges are escape rooms, but the same logic can be applied within the school walls by creating a particularly complex problem (possibly in steps) where the class will be invited to find a common solution.
From empathy to historical immersion
The field of role-playing games applied to education is one of the topics on which contemporary psychopedagogical literature is focusing the most in relation to game-based learning. Although this type of activity is particularly suitable especially for higher levels, such as in the case of teaching social and political sciences at the university level, interesting ideas can also be drawn for younger students. In fact, for elementary, middle, and high schools, role-playing games are often used to help students empathize with historical processes or events, trying to immerse them in a context very different from the one they are used to.
Enhancing interactivity and engagement beyond academia
Often, game mechanisms applied to learning transcend the strictly academic world - just think of all the applications dedicated to language learning or specific skills such as coding and data analysis. The extensive use of gamification in the digital world offers interesting points for developing new ways to make education interactive and engaging.
Creative ideas for enhancing learning with algor education
The mechanisms activated during games, such as competition, cooperation, and goal achievement, can also be replicated through Algor Education. Let's take a look at some creative ideas that you could propose to your students to enhance their learning experience:
- Complete the concept map: you can create complete concept maps or mind maps and then print or reproduce them in the classroom, but without the content of some key nodes. Then ask students to complete it, deciding whether to set up a team and/or timed game (taking into account, of course, the individual personalities present in the class);
- A group map: to enable students to develop cooperation and lateral thinking skills, you can create workgroups and then assign each group a topic on which to create a cross-disciplinary path. This type of activity is particularly suitable for civic education hours, during which you can encourage students to create original interdisciplinary paths. Subsequently, the different groups can present their work to the rest of the class, creating a peer-to-peer learning environment.
These are just two suggestions, but Algor Education certainly offers a much wider range of possibilities – also thanks to the numerous customization options it provides. Gamification, therefore, can also be implemented through platforms initially designed for different purposes, improving the learning experience of each student.