Gamification in Education
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9th March 2019
Colette Mazzola


Gamification offers advantages and innovation in terms of teaching and learning. Firstly, Salmon (2011) refers to the idea of taking basic elements of games and applying it educationally, in a similar manner Fuszard (1991) claims; games encourage creative behaviour and divergent thoughts, providing a unique structure that supports the facilitation of teaching, furthermore, affecting diversity in teaching pedagogy. Similarly, Haythornthwaite and Andrews (2011) further iterate game-based learning is an innovation derived from the use of computer games.


Games in education can offer a pedagogical shift in educational theory. Sampayo-Vargas, Cope, and Byrne (2013) provide evidence that the use of educational games has become increasingly popular, suggesting educational games enhance motivation, engagement and participation nonetheless offering a relaxed fun learning experience. Jong, Shang, Lee, and Lee (2008) articulate a promotional shift in education; from a didactic model to a constructivist model, stated as being emphasised in Gamification. Furthermore, Richardson (1997) implies a constructivist, suggests that people create their own understandings; based on an interaction of what they know and believe, fundamentally problem-solving. Whereas King (2009) states that a constructivist theory provides a traditional teaching model that relinquishes interaction between prior and new knowledge nor does it develop self-esteem or self-actualization, these attributes directly connects to Maslow’s hierarchy of need.


Gamification provides diversity with interaction and students can benefit from anonymised environments. Sharpe, Beetham and Freitas (2010, p.80) investigate pluralism in using Second Life for education “Second Life is a free 3D virtual world where users can socialize, connect and create using free voice and text chat" (Secondlife.com, 2015). Once the student creates an avatar a sense of fragmentation can be developed, identity transition or transformation can occur. In addition, Suler (2005) denotes lacking face to face cues combined with communication online can have a different effect on people. As for creating an avatar Suler found that people think imaginary character created in a different space and time in a virtual world, separated from their real-life responsibilities. To add to this Salmon’s (2011, p.72) and Suler (2005) suggest participants using Second Life for communication online, it is possible they feel they are creating new and coherent identities through their avatars. What is more socially, students felt they could get to know each other better and faster on Second Life even sharing aspects of their personal life that they would not face to face, in the same way Suler (2005) wrote asynchronicity and anonymity, heighten the online disinhibition effect. Correspondingly Haythornthwaite and Andrews, (2011, p.138) indicate a major factor in online communication is anonymity, this could present some positive factors for students, for example no public embarrassment for a silly idea. Another possibility in accordance with Suler (2005) his research exclaims minimization of authority is apparent online and Salmon (2001, p.75) indicates that an immersive Second Life environment allows a shift in traditional teaching structure and the development of equal relationships, “Everyone is an equal”.


In conclusion to Gamification, there is considerable research to suggest it can have a positive impact on learning, encouraging engagement and enhanced participation. Nevertheless, taking into consideration the online disinhibition aspects and that authority can be minimising online.


Reference List

Fuszard, B. (1991). Future Trends in Nursing Practice and Technology*. The Journal of Rural Health, 7(4), 402-412. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-0361.1991.tb01082.x

Haythornthwaite, C., & Andrews, R. (2011). E-learning theory and practice. Los Angeles: Sage.

Jong, M., Shang, J., Lee, F., & Lee, J. (2008). Harnessing Computer Games in Education. International Journal of Distance Education Technologies, 6(1), 1-9. http://dx.doi.org/10.4018/jdet.2008010101

King, P. (2009). Climbing Maslow's pyramid. Leicester: Matador.

Richardson, V. (1997). Constructivist teacher education. London [u.a.]: Falmer.

Salmon, G. (2011). E-moderating. New York: Routledge.

Sampayo-Vargas, S., Cope, C., He, Z., & Byrne, G. (2013). The effectiveness of adaptive difficulty adjustments on students' motivation and learning in an educational computer game. Computers & Education, 69, 452-462. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2013.07.004

Sharpe, R., Beetham, H., & Freitas, S. (2010). Rethinking learning for a digital age. New York: Routledge.

Suler, J. (2005). The online disinhibition effects. Int. J. Appl. Psychoanal. Studies, 2(2), 184-188. doi:10.1002/aps.42

The Entertainment Software Association, (2015). The Entertainment Software Association. Retrieved 3 October 2015, from http://www.theesa.com/