Gamification is a bit of a buzzword in education these days. We can debate the educational value of all the digital games out there, but no one can dismiss the impact (good or bad) of gaming on the formative minds of future generations. I believe game-based learning, when designed with the right motives in mind, has an enormous potential in teaching our future learners.
When I founded Yellowdig with a mission to enable community based learning in our classrooms, I incorporated gamification in the platform. I wanted to motivate learners to take action on their own through a carefully designed incentive system. Based on data we have gathered from over 100,000 Yellowdig classrooms, what seemed like a good idea back then has proven to be very effective in engaging and retaining the most “at-risk” students. You can find specific stories from inside the classroom in our Efficacy E-Book.
I’m a firm believer that every gamification tactic in education should start with a clear problem in mind. Otherwise it is far too easy to solve for the wrong problem with unintended consequences.
Yellowdig’s gamification solves two primary problems that our educators face.
First, most online communities are dominated by a small fraction of learners who are intrinsically motivated or are simply more vocal than their peers. These communities do very little to pull-in the “quiet or at risk” students in meaningful ways without being too intrusive. Simultaneously, the go-getter students learn to procrastinate over time as they find themselves in a minority of engaged students.
Secondly, to solve the problem of “participation”, many instructors rely on an assignment-based discussion-approach i.e. “respond to my prompt” or “post once and comment twice” to ensure students are forced to participate. Although this approach guarantees participation, it saps the organic and spontaneous nature of discussions, and a sense of belonging which is so vital for a healthy community. In short, it checks the box for the instructor and students, but does little to enable discussion based learning.
Yellowdig’s gamification approach, which was recently awarded a patent, tackles these two problems with the following solutions:
Yellowdig’s participation points with a direct grade book integration encourages “everyone” in a community to participate. Students are required to meet a participation points goal that they can earn by posting, commenting, and receiving engagement, such as comments and reactions, on their posts and comments. This allows students to earn points based on their inter