Gamification 101: What is it?

One of the biggest buzzwords in education today is “gamification.” What is it? Gamification is the process of making your class more like a game by incorporating elements from gaming into the way you organize and evaluate activities.

One key difference between a gamified classroom and a traditional one is in how growth is measured. In traditional classrooms students are often measured in absolute terms. Their skills are rewarded based on what they know, not on how much the learn along the way. In a gamified classroom students earn points, badges, level-ups and achievements as they progress through the game, regardless of where they start on day one. Their growth is measured in relative terms, the object is for them to make progress and improve as the course progresses.

Another key difference between gamified and traditional classrooms is the method of content delivery. A key component of many gamified classrooms is flipping. In flipped classrooms students usually receive information at home and process it in class, rather than the more traditional model of receiving content at school and processing it at home.

Gamification is not without its detractors, many of whom are critical of relying on extrinsic motivation to engage students in learning. I respect this criticism, and don’t think that every classroom should try to become more gamified, but there is a place for it in education. There is no one method that will work for all students, and for some of our most reluctant learners this may be an approach that gives them a reason to engage with the content.

If you want to read more about gamifying, I suggest you read Vicki Davis’ (@coolcatteacher) awesome blog post here.

There are several sites that offer ways to gamify your classroom. Here are some that I’m interested in.



Classcraft create an entire new layer on any existing class. They offer most of their features for free, but do have a paid plan as well.



HabitRPG seems like it has a ton of potential to me. It creates a system of gamifying LIFE itself. This will be GREAT for working with younger students as it can create a simple framework for developing time management skills. I know that this does rely on a system of extrinsic motivation, as all gaming does, but it may be a great place to start with more reluctant kids who are easily motivated by these types of games.

Vicki Davis’s podcast, Every Classroom Matters, is great. In this episode she interviews Cat Flippen (@CatFlippen) to see how she is using gamification, and where she sees it going in the future.


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