By Mariska Basson
The idea that games can enhance the learning experience in a classroom is not a new one. Who remembers learning how to count whilst playing hide and seek or even learning shapes, colours, numbers or letters through playing hopscotch on the playground?
What exactly does it mean then to “gamify” learning? Gamification is defined as the application of typical elements of game playing (rules of play, point scoring, competition with others) to other areas of activity, specifically to engage users in problem solving. [Wikipedia and Oxford Online Dictionary]. In a classroom this will typically be applied to increase the engagement and student motivation following the process of using the game design concepts and design thinking skills to explore new concepts as well as the creation and solution of various problems to get to a desired goal. There are many ways to implement this, not all of them includes actual games. But where is the fun in that, right?
I have done some research on this fascinating concept and applied it to my English classroom by creating an alternate universe where nouns are celebrities, pronouns are the spies and their secret mission is to guard the safety of the universe called sentence land against the “grammardiles”. Every period in my classroom is tied to goals and secret missions which can be successfully obtained by completing various challenges. These challenges take the form of board games (specifically designed for a specific concept), scavenger hunts, songs etc.
My classroom has transformed from a passive environment for learning into a dynamic interactive place where your learning is only limited by your imagination. Where students feel motivated to learn and where learning is fun. As an educator, I look back on my day realising that quite possibly, I enjoyed the experience more than the learners.