The Gamification of Education

We want to be entertained almost all the time. Whether at work, exercising or at school, nowadays, focusing on one thing at a time is boring. We need to surf the web while at work or listen to the latest tune while exercising. For the most part, it’s not a problem. But what about education? Does the need to multi-task spill into education? Do all the mobile apps and online games  hurt education? A paper entitled Gamification in Education, What, How, Why Bother? by Joey J. Lee and Jessica Hammer, studies the issue of current student engagement and motivation. Their suggestion is to incorporate gamification into education. Lee and Hammer define gamification as “the use  of game mechanics, dynamics, and framework to promote desired behaviors.”

In School

Gamification is a common way to promote a business or product. Recently, the principles of gamification have made their way into schools. Generally referred to as the “gamification of education”. Lee and Hammer write, “intuition suggests that gamification may be able to motivate students to learn better and care more about school.” According, to the authors’ study, incorporating game-like features (like points, badges or an achievement score)can improve schools, teaching and scores. The authors focus the cognitive, emotional and social learning areas. The cognitive area is the goal. Lee and Hammer give the example of Angry Birds. As a student plays the mobile game over and over, they get a better idea on how to angle the sling shot or the best technique to knock down the beams. The students take the role of mini-physicists while perfecting their gameplay. The Citizen Sort games follow a smilar principle. Two of the main goals are to perform classification tasks and provide information about motivation to information scientists. The games are also entertaining and incorporate real game play with science. Take, Happy Match for example. One of the goals of Happy Match! is to help classify the images based on important characteristics. The more you play Happy Match!, the more photos you classify and the better you will do. The more you play the more you will learn about the species whether it’s moths, sharks, rays or more! Hammer and Lee suggest that physical gameplay can be more effective than just lecturing students. The gaming provides an environment for the student to learn for themselves.


Gamification in education can also teach valuable life skills, according to Hammer and Lee. The emotional connection and investment into the game can actually teach valuable lessons to young adults. Hammer and Lee say gamification will teach people resilience and learning from failures. Unlike exams that usually don’t offer multiple opportunities, the plus of gaming is that the student, or user, can continue to play until they succeed.The fantasy game  from Citizen Sort, Forgotten Island, also adds emotion. You will play the role of a lost explorer and invest time in searching the island for answers to the puzzles and mysteries. The drive to succeed in the game also increases the drive to correctly classify the species. The social aspect of gamification is clear. It is also a major component of Happy Match!. Competition and collaboration with friends are strong factors and motivators, according to Hammer and Lee. In Hunt and Gather, you can work with friends to create important characteristics to classify a species. For a more competitive feel, you can play one of the versions of Happy Match! with friends. Share your score on the Citizen Sort score board and through social media.

Learning and Entertaining

One of Citizen Sort’s goals is to utilize gamification as an entertainment tool. The three games, Hunt & Gather, Happy Match! and Forgotten Island incorporate classification tasks and information scientist research into engaging gameplay.

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