21st Century Teachers Should Embrace Gamifying Education

Educational gamification is a rapidly advancing area of the 21st century classroom. Why? Because of its ability to highly engage and motivate learners!

This site will:

  • Help to introduce you to the exciting possibilities gamifying education
  • Show 21st century teachers why you should seek to incorporate gamification in your classroom.

But first, what exactly IS gamification?

Definition: “A series of design principles, processes and systems used to influence, engage and motivate individuals, groups and communities to drive behaviours and effect desired outcomes” (Huang & Soman, 2013).

Scroll on down and find out just why teachers and students alike are excited over gamification!

Current Gaming Prevalence

Australian Gaming Statistics
Households with a gaming device 92%
Homes with children <18 years with a gaming device 95%
Female gamers to male gamers 47% female, 53% male
Gamers playing per day 57%
Parents who play games with their children 88%

Source: Digital Australia 2012 (DA12) - iGEA. (2011). Retrieved June 7, 2014, from http://www.igea.net/2011/10/digital-australia-2012-da12/

Lets just see that again:

Clearly gaming has overwhelming permeated the lives of learners. People regularly play games, with their friends and parents as well! Gone is the stigma of gaming being boys only, with nearly equal share between the sexes.

Why Do People Play Games?

Why do people play games? They play to feel good leading to a boost in focus and time spent on a task. The PERMA model by psychologist Martin Seligman in 2011 explains why people feel good during gameplay:

  • Positive emotions – An intrinsic need in people, often fulfilled in-game by success.
  • Engagement – Distractions minimised and concentration improved in aid of fulfilling goals.
  • Relationship building – Exercises social nature and desire to bond with other players.
  • Meaning – Goals fulfilled that justify the sense of purpose players have of their lives.
  • Accomplishment – An important factor in humans and strive for betterment of self.

Gamification also use mechanics to encouraging users through gameplay or goals (Huang & Soman, 2013). Some great examples of this include:

Self-Elements (Complete Stage) Social Elements (Push Stage)
Points Leaderboards
Levels Virtual Goods
Trophies/Badges Interactive Cooperation
Virtual Goods Storyline
Time Restrictions  

Source: Huang, W. H. Y., & Soman, D. (2013). Gamification Of Education.

So, Why Gamification?

The main reasons behind the effectiveness of gamification of education are very simple, it increases:


Without the presence of these three factors, cycles of learner disinterest and poor attendance thrive, reducing successful achievement of learning objectives (Huang & Soman, 2013). For example, Classcraft reported:

  • Drop to almost zero regarding tardiness of students + increase in student attendance
  • Students were also reported to have far higher levels of engagement
  • In groups, students also performed better to help their group peers + reduce penalisation (Classcraft, 2014).

Where Gamification Meets Educational Theory

Gamification relies on behaviourist positive reinforcement but often incorporates elements of constructivist theory, namely inquiry-based learning.

Positive Reinforcement – Behaviourism:

  • Learner performs as expected in positive manner = rewarded
  • Learner performs in a negative manner = penalised
  • Behaviour altered through the application of these rewards/penalties.

Inquiry-based Learning (IBL) - Constructivism:

IBL educators become facilitators of learners developing their problem-solving skills, and formation of mental structures (schema) to explain observations (Edelson, Daniel, Douglas, Gordin & Pea, 1999). IBL learners experience:

  • Posing own questions/designs
  • Explore answers
  • Solve problems
  • Joint construction and sharing of knowledge
  • Collaboration – Learners designing and/or working on projects together.

Remember that while IBL is important in learning, it isn’t the primary strength of gamification:

Educational Gamification = Engagement + Motivation Strength > IBL Strength.

Literacy of the 21st Century

  • Games and the gamification of educational experiences are in increasing demand.
  • Future demand of gamification to be fulfilled by learners of tomorrow
  • Changes in national curriculum to include a heavier emphasis on digital design and coding abilities ("The Australian Curriculum v6.0 Technologies: Technologies", 2014)
  • ICT skills becoming the next literacy of the 21st century.



Please enjoy exploring some educational gamification examples located below.

Kodu Game Lab