Approach the education system in a progressive, yet open innovative manner, introducing the power of “Gamification” within the education system as it exists today might just be the next best step to take. The education system is at the core already a game: you earn points (Grades) you get challenges (Exams) there are levels (For example: first to second grade is leveling up).
In the current education system you’ll get lectures about a certain subject for weeks and weeks, closing the subject with a formal exam that will measure how much you know. Or how much you still remember from the last minute studying the day and/or night before. Splitting the subjects into smaller pieces, making them true “challenges” that you can accomplish very quickly one after the other would allow the players to go through the materials at their own pace. Adapting gradually to the complexity and difficulty of the subject, applying their newly discovered skills and/or tools for the next challenge.
A goal to engage users is by getting players to acknowledge their achievements! This is a very visual and audible sign indicating that the player was intrinsically motivated and is proud about his/her achievement. It is this kind of motivation that will trigger the urge of the player to continue towards the next challenge that is slightly more difficult to go through.
Don’t Forget Social Media
Of course it is not only the challenge concept and allowing people to fail that will motivate them to play, that would be too easy in this complex world we live in. The most important part here is to come up with the right “story” that incorporates the challenges and all other game-elements. Without a good story, the players will not be attracted to be the master of math challenges, that wouldn’t be cool at all and the student would soon be the math nerd. For each domain, for each type of class one will need to find the right metaphor to build on, so achieving a challenge becomes a hot topic.
Only the right story within the right context will provide the right ingredients for a successful gamification of the education system on any level. Without the right story, one will never have the social aspect covered, which is at the core of the gamification model. It is important to understand that students seem to come to school to meet their friends or because it is (legally) imposed to them. Because they are checked for physical presence and want to avoid trouble. Unfortunately, most of them are not really motivated from the inside to be there for the reasons schools really is for. Making the story so that players are eager to talk about it with their friends, share with their direct environment, is key!
Make it easy
An immediacy to want to discover how to use it makes it easier to engage in. It is important that, within the education system, gamification is used to guide players to applying the newly acquired insights immediately. It should be clear to the players how they can apply the learning within the real world, or the quest they are in. In that sense, the education system should divert from lecture to more of a “do-er” mindset where students are encouraged to apply their new insights in individual or group experiments. Allowing players to experiment, discover new knowledge, getting them to talk about it and allow them to self-organize (within boundaries and with some purpose at hand) will increase the intrinsic motivation of the players within the system.
Imagine that you extend the system with some kind of bonus system that will encourage players to collaborate on certain group challenges? Where all players earn bonus points for achieving the challenge on top of their individual ones.
And while we are on the subject of points, we cannot forget the gamification element of “leader-boards”, a very visual representation of where players are within the game. A good leadership board should provide the answer to the following questions: How many points do they have? Which levels did they clear? Which challenges were achieved? Where are they within the quest of their educational quest compared to others?… This also means that, from now, on students will not score grades anymore but will acquire, earn points.
Players will jump levels according to their skill level in a certain domain, there is no generalization anymore! One can be a “God of Math” while still being a “Visistor in France” so to speak, and age does not matter. We should stop thinking that everybody needs to be good (enough) at everything in a certain grade to be able to move on to the next level and, with this, also stop thinking that age is identifying the level a player is in the game of education. Skills and motivation are key!