• S.Campbell - Editor

Gamification in Ed Tech...and my bias about it

Gamification in Ed Tech...and my bias about it

Gamification is a popular buzz word in Ed Tech circles, but I've always wondered how successful this strategy actually is. Did developers push this idea because they enjoyed games themselves? As someone who is, at best, indifferent to gaming, I've always thought the benefits of gamification in education were overstated.

What truly engages students? Interesting and meaningful content. Working to solve problems. Collaborating with peers. Finding fun and creative ways to show what they've learned. I've always believed this and still do.

However, I've started doing some "school time" each day with my 4-year-old son. I purchased a workbook for him and a pretty cool jelly-fish pen so he could practice his letters and numbers. He's engaged for a few minutes and then quickly gets distracted by whatever insect saunters by or song pops into his head.

A few weeks later, a friend mentioned a simple alphabet app that his kids loved. Now, I knew I was 10 times the Dad this guy was (just kidding Dave!) so I had better get this app for my kids ASAP. I downloaded it and gave it a test drive before unleashing it on my son. It was very similar to the print workbook we'd been using but had the added benefits of audio. We could hear the cartoon characters sound out the letter and the sound it makes. Which is great.

Perhaps more importantly, students could earn stickers for completing each step. So gamification. Complete a task, get a reward.

My son gets the sticker crazies from time to time, but there is no way virtual stickers would hold the same appeal, right? Wrong. So so wrong. He can play this game for hours, talk endlessly about the "stickers" he received, and stay engaged in learning the alphabet far longer than with the paper workbook.

I'm a convert! Gamification in Ed Tech can be a valuable tool in engaging kids. I had let my own bias against gaming lead me to believe that gamification was overrated.

Have you overcome your own bias to change your mind about something? If so, let me know in the comments.


Vancouver, BC