Gamification is not something new. Many educators have been applying gamification in their teaching to make learning more engaging and productive for students.

No, gamification is not the same as game-based learning. It is not about using Nessy to teach phonics or Minecraft to encourage storytelling. Gamification basically uses game concepts and its design principles in a non-game context. Imagine applying the rules of your favourite games to your daily teaching. Wouldn’t that increase student engagement and learning? In other words, gamification is about extracting all the fun and addictive elements found in games and use them to educate learners. A good example would be, using rewards like points and badges (instead of grades!), and having quests (instead of tests!).

There are many examples of gamification applied to learn environments. For instance, Khan Academy, an online gamified learning platform, has incorporated elements of gamification into their instructional videos and exercises on a range of topics. In 2010, Khan Academy introduced badges as motivation for learning where they are classified into different types for different purposes. For instance, meteorite badges are easy to earn for beginners but moon badges are given for significant investment in learning.

Gamification and Students with Learning Difficulties

Often we hear the way to keep learners engaged is by making learning fun for them. Well, games are fun and to be able to gamify lessons can have a positive impact on students’ learning. Students can then be empowered to create, evaluate, analyse and apply newly acquired knowledge and information. By incorporating game elements into the learning process, it is a step forward to encouraging learners’ engagement which will lead to their achievement.

Another reason for incorporating gamification in the classroom is, it improves class management. Similar to when you begin a game, having a clear goal at the beginning of the lesson gives students a clear picture of what the expectations are and where to direct their focus and attention.

For students who are prone to distractions, the engaging elements incorporated in teaching materials will significantly aid in sustaining students’ attention. Gamification will not only improve the retention of information; it also inspires students to be more motivated since learning will no longer be considered a chore!

Gamifying the Classroom

As mentioned, rewarding the students as they learn e.g. completing tasks assigned just motivates them to take up more tasks willingly. Getting a ‘badge’ or ‘XP points’ as they progress not only allows them to monitor what they have completed or how well they have done in a particular topic, this form of reward system is effective in building their self-confidence and self-worth.


For students who find it difficult to stay focused and motivated, thereby affecting their desires to learn, gamification allows students to build their confidence and enhance their learning experience. But the question is, how do we gamify our classrooms to achieve all that? Below are some ways;

Imagine designing your classroom like a video game.

Students as Designers

In DAS’s Main Literacy Programme (MLP), Educational Therapists can better engage their students by getting them involved on a deeper level. For instance, reading and spelling activities can be gamified by allowing the students to choose:

  • how they would like the review activities to be carried out
  • how they would like to be rewarded

Thus, they can decide on their learning goals and achievements can be customized according to their ability and learning needs. If students in a particular class prefer to be represented as dinosaurs, wouldn’t it be fun for them to design their personal dinosaur avatars and reflect them on a leaderboard display?

Give chances

Just like in video games, students should be given second chances when they make mistakes in their assignments. Failure is not only an option, it is expected. They should have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and try again until they succeed. That way, it not only motivates them to work harder to achieve better results, it also teaches them to see practice and over-learning as one of the ways to improve themselves.

Some students with dyslexia have difficulties remembering new concepts taught. With gamification, it does not only provide a platform for reinforcement and over-learning, it also makes learning more fun and exciting!

Provide Instant Feedback

It is very important that students are given instant feedback so that they are aware of not only what they know, but what they are required to know. With instant feedback, it will facilitate better student engagement as well as the retention of information, make learning more effective.

Educational Therapists can consider incorporating instant feedback in their gamified learning activities. For instance, when students are given timely feedback on their mistakes made during an activity, it will help them improve the next time. Therefore, instant feedback is a crucial element in learning because when mistakes are left uncorrected, students might continue making them or worse, build up new knowledge on the wrong information.


Make Visible Progress

Students are more motivated when they are able to see how much they have progressed in their tasks assigned. For example, using a progress bar to indicate students’ number of points for each assignment completed. For weaker students, a visual roadmap will provide them with accessible progress through the lesson and this will motivate them to persevere and work hard until they reach the next level in their learning stage.


What’s My Quest?

Keeping students fully engaged during lessons can be indeed challenging. If educators can consider applying principles that gaming experts use to their advantage, then most probably students can see learning as something appealing to them. Writing tasks can be introduced to students as ‘quests’, where reluctant writers could see these tasks as completing a mission with an objective, making the act of writing less daunting. Quests can also be incorporated as independent activities in a mixed-ability class- for students who complete their work way ahead of their peers. With ‘quests’ to complete every lesson, learning would definitely be an exciting adventure for them every day!

In conclusion, a gamification is a powerful tool that can help transform the classroom into a learning environment that teaches students practical skills, unleash their potential and creativity as well as motivate them to continue learning through self-guided instruction.

Free clipart from: