|Photo: Gal Rimon|
One of the most fascinating areas that could be transformed by gamification technology is education and the school system. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? School is all about discipline and hard work. We want our children to know that there’s a time for games and a time for seriousness, and muddling the two seems quite strange, or even dangerous.
Well apparently, for no good reason.
One of the things that games are best at is achieving a state called ‘flow.’ This is described as a state of total focus on the task at hand and was initially described by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. For flow to be achieved, several conditions need to exist. Firstly, a clear goal, or a set of several goals. This allows for structure and a sense of direction. Secondly, it is important that immediate and accurate feedback exists, since it allows people to change their actions in accordance with the desired results. Finally, in order to achieve flow, a person has to be dealing with a challenge that is at an appropriate level. If it will be too easy, they will be bored, yet if it is too difficult they will become frustrated.
Imagine going through school while experiencing this state of ‘flow’, and having education feel like a playful and enjoyable endeavor, that contributes to growth and development. Many education innovators believe that the experience of school can be one which resembles this, instead of the stressful and anxiety ridden experience many of us might remember.
Many educators see gamification as a great way to achieve flow in schools, where many times classrooms are crowded and noisy, and attention is easily disturbed. Gamification also helps teachers in getting children out of their normal routines, which in itself can help students achieve a state of novelty and flow.
When you think about it, gamification has existed in education for ages. What are ‘gold stars’ if not a gamification mechanic? And how about the competition between different ‘houses’, prevalent in parts of the British education system? What’s new here is that technology is being used to gamify different parts of the educational process on a larger scale than ever before.