I completed my degree part-time while working full-time in my early thirties. One of the first modules I took was Introduction to Economics, which had pre-calculus level maths as a prerequisite. I had taken an AS in mathematics at school ten years before but had not done anything since. I found Khan Academy on the internet and started to work through the knowledge map towards my goal. The site used rudimentary gaming principles, including rules; you used to need ten questions correct in a row to ‘master’ the skill. It also required you to set goals, provide feedback, and give rewards. I spent four to six intensive weeks relearning maths from the ground up and complete my economics module.

Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts. It can also be defined as a set of activities and processes to solve problems by using or applying the characteristics of game elements.

The three core elements of gamification:

  • Points as visual identifiers of progress and provide meaning and purpose
  • Badges display and reward achievement
  • Leaderboards present competitive placement as a sign of social status

Gamification in education attempts to add elements of fun into learning by making lessons into games. Games are motivating; sports were created to keep people motivated to stay fit and healthy, and Games like chess help people learn strategy. By making learning more fun, it can potentially become more engaging.

Kahoot is an excellent example of simple gamification in education. Kahoot is a multiple choice quiz tool that teachers can use in live sessions to use a leaderboard to motivate students. Students use their mobile phones to follow along with the teacher’s questions and are scored on the speed of their correct answers. A leaderboard is presented after each question showing the highest-scoring students self-assigned title providing a level of anonymity where needed. 

Yu-kai Chou provides eight universal core drivers of gamification in the Octalysis model framework described in Actionable Gamification

  1. Meaning – the desire to feel that our actions have purpose
  2. Accomplishment – The drive to achieve and overcome challenges
  3. Empowerment – The desire to choose one’s own direction and try a variety of solutions to a problem
  4. Ownership – The desire to own things and have possession
  5. Social Influence – The drive to interact with, help, learn from, and compete with others
  6. Scarcity – The drive of wanting things you can’t have
  7. Unpredictability – The drive of wanting to know what will happen next, and…
  8. Avoidance – The drive to avoid pain or negative consequences.

The UX knowledge base has a three-part series on gamification that is worth a read if you are interested in learning the basics: