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The gamification of learning in international schools

Updated 28 Nov 2023

Spurred by the growth of educational technology and artificial intelligence, gamification is among the biggest trends in international schools and education as a whole. In this article, we delve into what gamification is and its role in education.

We also discuss whether it is beneficial for students and if parents should be looking for international schools that leverage gamification or blended learning techniques in 2024.

What is gamification?

Teachers in traditional classrooms have to contend with ever-decreasing attention spans thanks to the increasing consumption of short-form content. This makes it challenging for teachers to seamlessly conduct a 30- to 60-minute-long lesson without completely losing their students’ attention. This is where gamification comes in. Gamification has been heralded as one of the most important engagement tools in an educator’s arsenal.

Essentially, gamification involves incorporating the elements of a game into learning to stimulate students and break the monotony of traditional learning methods. The ultimate goal of gamification is to drive intrinsic motivation and to increase student engagement.

Examples of gamification include using apps such as Duolingo, which have different levels that increase in complexity and also offer leaderboards that drive healthy competition. Stories are another fantastic way to engage learners and allow them to be part of the storyline. 

This also allows children to get out of their comfort zones and explore characters they may not necessarily be drawn to themselves. Rewards and increasingly complex challenges are other examples of gamification.

The role of gamification in international education

The role of gamification in international education goes beyond motivating and engaging students. Students often associate play with games and learning with things such as essays, homework and assignments. 

With this in mind, students are unlikely to want to re-engage in traditional learning methods, but if they lose at a game, they are more likely to try playing the game again to win. This allows children to learn from their failures, develop problem-solving skills and build resilience.

Leveraging gamification in international schools can also encourage continuous learning, since teachers can find ways to keep students coming back to improve their scores or complete a new level. Additionally, gamification contributes positively to building social and collaborative skills. Similarly to games, gamification typically enables an exchange of ideas between students and allows them to work together to solve common problems.

Should international schools incorporate gamification in the classroom?

Plenty of benefits are attached to incorporating gamification in the classroom, and it’s a tool that promises to be among the drivers of the education evolution in the 21st century. There are, however, some entry barriers for parents and educators to be aware of. Most gamification techniques rely on e-learning tools such as digital learning platforms and games, which typically require additional infrastructure such as tablets and laptops. This will usually not be an issue in international schools, but educators may require additional training to effectively use these tools.

It is also essential for educators and pedagogical experts to build solid gamification strategies to ensure that it does not lead to distraction and momentary engagement but to long-term knowledge attainment. Gamified educational platforms must also be modified to ensure they meet the requirements of children with special educational needs.

While gamification may be critiqued for developing students who are points-driven rather than knowledge-seeking, it can still be leveraged as an excellent tool for building student motivation, engagement and achievement. Overall, with the right game design strategy, qualified educational practitioners and inclusivity at the top of mind, gamification can be the tool that transforms learning and encourages holistic student development.

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