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Using Gamification to Enhance Engagement in Online Learning

by on 03/04/2023 1341

As COVID-19 took the world upside down, we were faced with a lot of problems we weren’t clearly ready for. Some of these are transportation, food allocations, health and safety, work settings, and even education.


Students who were used to coming into their schools every day were introduced to the online learning setup. A big jump from classrooms to online meetings, physical textbooks to modules, live presentations to recorded projects, etc. Although it was a tough transition for some, given the old ways it diminished and the new routines to introduce, online learning was proven effective during these challenging times.


However, engagement is an obstacle in such a learning setup, especially in this digital age in which we are easily distracted by social media apps. Making an online class engaging enough is a challenge for most teachers. And so, if your school continues to offer online learning for students, gamification is the answer to the struggle of keeping them engaged.


What is Gamification?

In simple words, gamification is the incorporation of gaming elements into non-game contexts. Its primary goal is to enhance engagement and motivation in the environment it is set in. We can also define it as a set of activities using characteristics usually found in games to solve problems.



Miles Autism Academy
Miles Autism Academy


The Role of Gamification in Education

Gamification may not sound so familiar, but this doesn’t mean that it’s a new technique used in education. As a matter of fact, Dmitri Mendeleev, a Russian scientist and educator in the 19th century, was one of the many scientists who used this concept to complete an educational task.


Mendeleev, best known for creating the Periodic Table of Elements, was an avid card player. It was logical for him to categorize the elements in such a way he could understand: turning the classification process into a card game by enlisting the elements along with their respective information on cards face up on the table. By doing this, he was able to have a better understanding of the relationships of the elements with one another. He published this work of his and was cultivated by fellow scientists later on by adding new elements with Mendeleev’s way of classification to follow through.


Although not as innovative compared to modern times, there are other techniques by which gamification can aid the effectiveness of education, especially in online learning. Here are some of the gaming techniques to use in this setup:


  • Points system
  • Leaderboard
  • Levels and progress bars
  • Badges or Awards
  • Challenges, Competitions, or Missions



If you look closely, the dynamics written above are mostly aimed at our extrinsic motivation. This type of motivation is based on external factors or rewards to make us do something—encouraging students to learn because of the rewards awaiting them. Although it is not entirely wrong to lean on this motive, it is not really healthy in the long run. Plus, it defeats the goal of learning we are all aiming for.


If we make the learning process itself fun and engaging, incorporating game-like visuals or courses, we can enhance the students’ intrinsic motivation. This motivation, on the other hand, centers on the individual’s desire to do something because they are solely interested in it. As stated above, keeping the engagement going is a challenge in the online learning setup for teachers, and extrinsic motivation may not be enough to invite students to learn, especially when the world is faced with problems left and right.


But if we have a healthy mix of both, which in itself is the goal of gamification in education, both students and educators can get the best of both worlds.



Benefits of Gamification


1. Enhances Learner Engagement.

Research shows that gamification in learning is more favorable to students as it creates a fun and laid-back environment. Through this setting, learners adopt a growth mindset that enhances their engagement in class. It is also proven through various research studies that it boosts productivity.


2. Aids in Cognitive and Physical Development.

Regardless of age, gamification helps develop the mind and even the body. A crossword puzzle may introduce new words to kids but can also be applicable to adults. A healthy mind exercise equates to a healthy functioning body, and through gamification, it is possible.



3. Makes Learning Fun and Interactive.

Learning should not only be informative. And through gamification, it can be fun and exciting too. The interactive element this concept creates offers learners the feeling of immersion, making them feel like an integral part of the whole learning process.


4. Improves Knowledge Absorption and Retention.

Through the elements of gamification, it blends the endorphins together with the awareness of the real world, which makes it easier for learners to absorb knowledge and its retention.


Final Thoughts

As the world becomes more digital and technology-focused, it is imperative that the education system keeps up with our youth’s future. Just the fact that kids nowadays have fewer social interactions in real life and often lean into more screen time. Thus, gamification can be a great problem-solver to that while promoting engagement in learning, specifically if used in the right way.



Written by Arleen Atienza. She is a licensed Psychometrician who earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Miriam College, Quezon City, Philippines.