Gamification & Game-Based Learning

in education

Gamification is “the application of game elements in non-gaming situations, often to motivate or influence behavior” (7 Things You Should Know About Gamification, 2011). It typically involves points, badges, levels, and/or progress bars. Some elements are immediate feedback & reinforcers, progress tracking & mastery, increasing difficulty (leveling), low risk of failure (unlimited retries), storyline/narrative, and student choice.

Game-based learning can employ existing games but is frequently synonymous with gamification. In many instances, GBL references online games, and frequently speaks to MMOGs/MMORPGs (massive multiplayer online games / massive multiplayer online role-playing games).

Regardless of the approach, the use of games in the classroom is meant to supplement and reinforce learning - the acquisition of skills, not just facts.

It's not a matter of one approach being "good" and one being "bad". You can use either, but it needs to match the expected outcomes of instruction and learning. Use of games should be purposeful.

In order for a game to be educational, it is imperative that the learners be required to learn in order to score and win the game. What makes a good learning game?

Good video games, the human mind, & good learning

Do video games - or games in general - share anything in common with learning? Check out the principles of learning built into video games.

Elements of gamification

There are 7 components of games/play that also apply to curriculum design:

  1. Challenge is constant.
  2. Everything is interconnected.
  3. Failure is reframed as iteration.
  4. Learning happens by doing - learners are active (producers), not passive (consumers).
  5. Feedback is immediate and ongoing.
  6. Everyone is a participant.
  7. It feels like play.

Tools for Gamification


Class Badges


(Free site to help you make badges)

Examples of Gamification Gamification in a high school AP Biology class (interesting comments about reading) Edtech Bingo (How could you use this example to let students take charge of their own learning?) Mr. Daley homepage