Gamification is about using the aspects of games to help in the process of learning or teaching. Taking the competitiveness of games, rewards system and feedback to a systematic level where one can practice problem-solving skills, teach concepts, and to have the learner learn in a way that can inspire creativity by expanding the basic classroom. By bringing the elements of games into a learning task one pushes the students’ abilities to new levels. The concept or concepts which are being taught now stand out because one is practicing their skills in a manor different from other knowledge. Whether it is new knowledge or previously practiced knowledge the information is now being used to engage the learner in a new task. Also the students are an active participant in the lesson which makes them use the knowledge they have learned to be able to play the game.
In a game that is set up well the flow is what will keep the gamer playing. With each task the game becomes slightly harder. With the right flow the gamer will be learning with each step and have the tools for the task. The player in turn wishes it to be harder or they gamer will become boring. Not too hard because frustration may win out. In games feedback is immediate. Score board, timers, coins, and prizes are just a few feedback indicators that one is doing well or poorly and needs help. Still it is instant. Wait too long for feedback and the gamer moves on. It is all about balance.
With all this in mind using gamification for EFL/ ESL students is really one of just making sure the game fits the task. People are so use to the concept of games and gaming that bringing them into the classroom is not really far-fetched. Many games force the gamer to read. Actually it was one of the biggest motivators for my son to learn to read. He wanted to know what the was on the computer screen. Also it forces the gamer to follow direction and comprehend the task to move on in the game. In this way the gamer is forced to use previously know knowledge in a new way which makes the information become more relevant.
In a classroom the teacher can use a game from the internet or teacher can design their own game. By using the same concepts that a computer game uses. Flow and Fiero are the two things that make the game what it is and for the player to keep moving forward in the game. The flow keeps the gamer going and the to the goal. It is fiero which pulls the gamer to the end, the primal need to win. The reason why we scream when we do win or when we don’t. To me it is the release of the energy that one has while trying to win, the excitement and fear. If that is created one knows it was a good game.
Stephan J. Franciosi