Whether you’ve been a player in the education game for the long haul or just a short while, chances are you’ve heard the term “gamification”– and if you haven’t, you’re hearing it here and now. Even if the term is new to you, gamification has been a time-tested teaching tool for decades. Think back to when students would play Oregon Trail on the the computers in the school library or master statistics and math skills playing fantasy baseball as a class. These days, technology has taken these types of gamified lessons to a whole new level. It’s an exciting time for gamification, as students build robots and design and program vast cityscapes in gamified STEM learning programs. There have never been more options for fostering excitement and interest in modern education than there are today. So let’s take a look at some of these gamification giants.
Minecraft for Education
Let’s start with the gamification juggernaut, Minecraft Education Edition. It’s likely that educators of all learning levels have heard of this one; Minecraft has been around for a good long while, and youngsters of all ages have been enthralled by it’s creative and customizable virtual world. With so many gamers already behind it, Minecraft in Education was an easy sell, and now students are learning to code, create, and collaborate inside their own digital work spaces. Not only are the skills used in Minecraft valuable for college and career, the actual method of Minecraft, working and testing in a digital environment, is so similar to real-world, workplace procedures, which provides students with a fun and comfortable path for mastering the technology in their futures. Minecraft for Education is exceptionally easy to set up and even easier to integrate into your curriculum.
Everyone remembers good ol’ LEGO! Partly because they haven’t really gone anywhere, they’re just as enjoyable as ever. While the fundamentals of building and design thinking are still at the core of LEGO’s brain boosting potential, they’ve added new and complex functions to help their building kits embrace modern technology and support pedagogical powerhouses like STEM. Students in modern classrooms are building, programming, and piloting their own LEGO mindstorm robots– how’s that for functional skills and experiential learning? Once the storm of STEM skills and collaboration needed to build the bot have been completed, the gamification begins; students then compete with each other’s creation in a battle-bots style robot sumo wrestling showdown. LEGO has developed not only the hardware and building blocks for these hands-on, maker oriented, STEM gems; they’ve got apps and software that work on nearly any device, providing end-to-end education tools.
Kahoot! It’s fun to say and even more fun to play, so what is it exactly? It’s a wonderful web tool that lets educators and students create engaging virtual quizzes that a class or even a whole pep rally full of participants can react to in real time. Kahoot! Will turn your multiple-choice, question-and-answer curricular quizzes into an education experience that feels more like a party or game show. Create your quizzes for any subject and Kahoot will host them on the web; participants then log in on any device– everything from a smartphone to a desktop workspace is supported– and compete in an engaging quizathon like it’s your local trivia night. Kahoot! takes care of all the presentation and scoring; you just provide the material from any lesson, at any grade level, and let the good times roll. But really, this video shows it’s impact best: