Do you play games?

If you’re like me, you probably answered yes. Even if you’re not (you should try them, they’re fun), your students almost certainly play games. Fortnite, Soccer, NBA2k19 – these games and sports fill the lives of the students we teach.

Often times these games get a bad rap. Games can be distracting, and students should be learning, right?

But what if we could use the motivation we see from students while they play games, in school. What if students where that motivated about their learning and their classes?

Jane McGonigal

Jane McGonigal is a game designer and author. Her book, Reality Is Broken, explores this exact idea. Games are positive forces in people’s lives. Lots of people play games. What if we could align the motivation of the player with a force of good in our world today?

When you apply this idea to education, you get game based learning, or gamified education. It’s certainly not a new concept. It has been heavily researched. But it is becoming more and more widely adopted as a classroom strategy to improve the engagement and motivation of students and their learning.

Aligning Games and Learning Can Be Powerful

Using games in the classroom, or adding game mechanics to everyday lessons, can be a powerful tool for learning. While game based learning is not a silver bullet, it can vastly increase motivation and engagement out of students in class.

Creating games for your classroom can certainly be daunting, scary, and overwhelming. Try not to reinvent the wheel – rather, steal an idea you know already works from a game you enjoy!

It could be dice rolling, competition, scoring points, or earning silly rewards – any of these would work. Then try it! See what happens when you add one game mechanic to a lesson. Then two. Then see if you can create a story with your game. Before long, you may see students beginning to engage with your game – and their learning – at a much deeper level.

If you want to learn more, or still aren’t sure where to start, I would highly suggest picking up Jane McGonigal’s book, Reality Is Broken. The book isn’t specifically focused on education – instead, it focuses on the motivation and positive impact games can have in our lives – and how we can use it to improve the world around us.

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