Gamification in Education

Gamification in Eduction, image by Matmi

Mini Matmian:
The use of Gamification techniques within education is not on the horizon…it is already here. 6 months ago I highlighted the fact that the work teachers have been doing in classrooms across the globe for many years could easily be seen as a form of non-digital Gamification. 

The very practice of stickers, group leader-boards and reward systems that are already in place in so many primary school classrooms is already, in part, a form of gamification …

I then went on to mention how digital media could be used to augment the education process:

…add a bespoke system that also incorporates digital media (yes games are part of it) for multiple purposes that not only serve the individual pupil but also provide an accurate and easy way of tracking progress [for teachers) can only benefit the whole school environment.

All those many months ago I kept it brief. My experience as a former teacher meant that the topic was close to my heart and I knew that if I didn’t reign in my key-tapping fingers I would end up with a 3000 word essay.

As a supporter of the good gamification techniques can bring, I wanted to make one thing absolutely clear:

Sticking the same API or just shoe-horning badges in is NOT taking advantage of the power of game mechanics. 

I mention this now because an article on PSFK.com caught my attention. It was about a company in Singapore who have developed an educational application that takes advantage of gamification techniques and mobile technology.

The company in question is called Trial Shuttle and the application they have developed “…lets students direct their own learning programs.” As I had said before, this is key. 

Trail Shuttle promotes self-directed learning via individualized, experiential paths.

Three components, in turn, are involved to make that goal possible: a Web-based toolkit for creating learning programs as well as a mobile app that allows students to explore and experience those programs and a monitoring app that lets teachers track students’ progress. Included in the mobile app for students are an augmented reality way-finder and code scanner; quizzes to test the student’s learning; chat capabilities; and the ability to check in at “hotspots” and complete specific tasks,

via PSFK

There are a few tools out there now that try to add digital gamification into education but this one is the first I have seen that not only puts the focus on the individual as a learner, gets them exploring the real world, allows teachers to track their progress and is cross-platform (please leave a comment if you know of any other software that does the same thing. SquareCrumbs is close but is iPad only).

It seems the Singaporean education system is happily embracing gamification and technology full force. On an ego boosting note, it is gratifying to see that the Matmi thought lab is still keeping up with (and at times ahead of) digital trends.

Let us know how you feel about gamifying education.

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►Mini Matmian:

The merging of education and technology is inevitable. Whether it will be integrated effectively is another issue. Or even integrated fairly as it won’t be cheap.

The emergence and merging of technology within education may lead to an even greater gap between the public and private sectors. This would obviously be a huge mistake and a travesty for the future of education.

I am a huge supporter of using technology within the classroom to better the education system around the world. But it MUST be done fairly and thought out carefully; involving the teachers themselves in the decision making.

(click READ MORE to see infographic).

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I am not naive and I am not a fool. I realize that gamification is the easy answer for deploying a perversion of games as a mod marketing miracle. I realize that using games earnestly would mean changing the very operation of most businesses. For those whose goal is to clock out at 5pm having matched the strategy and performance of your competitors, I understand that mediocrity’s lips are seductive because they are willing. For the rest, those of you who would consider that games can offer something different and greater than an affirmation of existing corporate practices, the business world has another name for you: they call you “leaders.”

The term Gamification will get beat into the ground (it’s such an easy target), but the techniques it uses to engage audiences and make money are here to stay.

‘Gamification Is Bullshit’ - Ian Bogost - Technology - The Atlantic

(via bregel)

►A Mini Matmi’s brief thoughts:

This was a good article. It exposes the shallow practices some use ‘gamification’ for. I would like to say I am an un-ashamed supporter of the theory of ‘gamification’, although I am not a huge fan of the name. I prefer to think of it in terms of ‘adding a game mechanics layer’.

The last paragraph makes a really good point and one I would like to reiterate.

"Games can offer something different and greater than an affirmation of existing corporate practices, the business world has another name for you: they call you “leaders.”

The buzz word ‘Gamification’ may die but I hope, and expect, the theory behind it will live on.

Effective implementation of game mechanics within any area, be it business or not, is truly worth while. But it must be bespoke. Just to take a quick example, I personally have seen how adding in a carefully designed (more) game mechanics layer into an educational setting has improved pupils behaviour, attention, motivation AND retention of skills/facts.

This was not just shoving the kids in-front of a computer game and saying “there, I’ve gamified education.” It was taking what many good teachers already do within the class and adding to it. The very practice of stickers, group leaderboards and reward systems that are already in place in so many primary school classrooms (and have been for years) is already, in part, a form of gamification (there’s that word again). Take this, add a bespoke system that also incorporates digital media (yes games are part of it) for multiple purposes that not only serve the individual pupil but also provide an accurate and easy way of tracking progress can only benefit the whole school environment.

I could go on and on about this topic and into to great detail but maybe that is for another time. There is definately huge scope and opportunities to better the education we provide the next generation where attention spans are at an all time low and difficult behaviour within the classroom is at an all time high.

Sticking the same API or just shoe-horning badges in is NOT taking advantage of the power of game mechanics. 

Thanks for listening, SL.



This “flipping” of the traditional classroom is the operating system espoused by Khan and his Khan Academy, a Web site whose popularity is exploding as millions tune into its free videos, practice exercises and assessment tools.

 An example of a science concept as presented on the online Khan Academy

 An example of a science concept as presented on the online Khan Academy.