Gamified Learning - Here to Stay! (And Rightfully So)
Gamified learning. This is a term we have been hearing much more commonly these days. But what does it mean? The definition of gamified learning is “an educational approach to motivate students to learn by introducing game elements into their learning environment”.
Many equate gamified learning to anything interactive – board games, dice games, card games, puzzles, etc. Others equate gamified learning to video game-style methods – learning apps and technology-based programs. No matter what your vision of it is, the intent is the same – enjoyable, engaging learning.
Gamified learning is not new. When you think about it, we have been hearing about the benefits of learning through play for decades. 40 years ago, I remember playing math tiddlywinks and “Store” with pretend money to make change. Although the mode of “play” may have changed over time, the idea is the same. Kids learn best by interacting with and having fun with their learning. In fact, there are schools today that build their programming and curriculum solely around the learning through play philosophy.
As a parent of 4 boys in grade school, I can honestly say that I have used the approach at home and appreciated the approach in the classroom. I have seen firsthand the excitement to learn new things when the kids are mentally engaged in their lessons. I believe that gamified learning is useful for all ages, but especially in the eager young minds of elementary children. We need to be creative with how we teach kids in order to truly reach them, so why not meet them where they’re at?
Understandably, there is considerable concern around kids using too much technology and many of the popular gamified learning programs are in app form. I get it. Really, I do. But my counterargument is that technology is not going away. Moderation is the key. These programs have earned a real place in today’s learning environment and you can certainly use them to your advantage on your own terms. Set your limits and let your kids engage. Instead of calling it “tech time”, call it “learning time”.
Here is the truth, gamified learning is on the rise! Even though there is concern from a faction of society, it is picking up in popularity with parents and teachers alike. A quick search on the google play store or the app store will show you literally hundreds upon hundreds of options for kids educational learning apps. Ask your child’s teacher, odds are they are using online learning games in school as well. In fact, the educational technology space is one of the fastest growing industries of 2021. There is good reason for the upward trend – for one, parents like me are buying into the gamified learning concept.
This is why gamified learning is here to stay, specifically in app form:
- Kids need to understand how to navigate technology. As the world advances, so does the complexity of how to participate in it. If we shield our kids from all technology, we shield them from being able to engage in the world around them and compete on a broader scale.
- There are many apps and programs out there that teach and share very good content. This is important to note because these apps can be useful tools to teach new skills and reinforce core learning objectives.
- Lasting learning happens with practice and repetition. How many times did you have to do the times tables flashcards for the numbers to be ingrained into your memory? Game-style learning helps with that practice. It makes the learning fun and therefore very repeatable.
- Gamified programs can connect with all types of learners – visual, auditory and kinesthetic tactile learners. This is wonderful news for kids who may not learn best with a traditional method of teaching, like lecture style or straight content-based videos.
- Gamified learning is fun! It is proven that fun learning is motivating for kids and it helps them to engage more with the lessons and content. This is a win-win!
In my humble opinion, gamified learning has certainly earned its place as a legitimate approach to education for kids. Such learning apps are fun, ready to go, convenient and easily available. My advice… embrace them. Technology is here to stay so get on board!