Gamification refers to the layering of game-like elements over existing learning activities, most commonly drills or quizzes based on a behaviourist pedagogical approach. While adding gamification elements does not fundamentally alter the underlying pedagogy, and in that sense it is a technique primarily associated with web 1.0, it may make learning activities more engaging for students, notably by introducing a competitive aspect. In related work on shallow gamification, Andrew Lieberoth suggests that framing a learning activity as a game may have almost as much motivational power as introducing full game mechanics.
Gamification is distinct from gaming, where game principles are employed at a deeper level, and which is more closely associated with web 2.0. In reality, many of today’s game-like educational activities are arranged on a continuum which stretches from traditional tasks with gamification elements layered over the top, through to true games which have been repurposed for education; there is a certainly a grey area between the two ends of the continuum. Both gamification and gaming may be associated with mobile learning, the former primarily in the form of drill-based or quiz-based educational apps, the latter in the form of augmented reality games.
Common gamification elements which can easily be layered over the top of existing learning activities include:
- badges (which can be collected by players to demonstrate achievement)
- levels (with players progressing to higher levels once they have demonstrated competence at lower levels)
- leaderboards (with top players able to see their positions relative to competitors)