An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.
As one of the Founding Fathers of the United States (not to mention inventor, writer, philosopher, and a leading figure in many other aspects of life), it's perhaps wise to pay heed to Benjamin Franklin's words.
The Bostonian's legacy is one of all-American culture, tradition, and a definite emphasis on the life-long value and effect of education.
A good, solid education gives an individual the basic tools to thrive in life. Learning feeds the soul and fosters the skills to find success. It is therefore imperative to create a framework that promotes free, comprehensive, and perhaps most importantly, fun ways to educate.
The often forgotten fun factor in education
Historically, the terms 'fun' and 'education' do not go hand in hand. Traditional institutions like colleges and universities take a rather rigid approach to tuition. This often results in largely disinterested, or even openly hostile students, and an environment that is anything but conducive to good academic outcomes.
The question is, how can education become 'fun', while retaining its core value of teaching something useful? The answer to this quandary comes from an unexpected source: The world of games.
People have been playing games for thousands of years. For instance, there is anecdotal evidence that chess was first played over 1,500 years ago.
Games are an integral part of mankind. They teach us communication skills, promote teamwork, feed our creativity, and crucially, encourage problem-solving, among many other positive and practical skills. Games teach us to be better in life, so why not combine games and education?
Gamified education: A framework for success
The integration of play into learning is hardly new. Scholastic institutions have been using games and gameplay elements in classrooms for decades. For example, if you walk into daycare centers you are likely to see plenty of entertaining educational material around. The benefits of play in an educational environment have been well documented.
Play stimulates cognitive development. Children acquire knowledge about the world that surrounds them and learn how to better interact with it the more they play. Problem-solving skills are, in fact, first acquired through interactive play. Exploring their environment through gameful interactions helps to develop the child's memory, concentration, perception, and most importantly, their imagination.
However, what is relatively new is the use of technology to enhance the learning environment. In particular, the use of gamification which refers to the introduction of game mechanics and techniques into a system or platform that is not designed or intended as a game. These gameplay elements promote interactivity and offer better outcomes overall. Most importantly, gamification triggers creativity.
The argument in favor of gamified education is simple: The more creative an individual grows up to be, the greater their chances are to achieve success later in life. Creativity is the basis for human ingenuity, solving the problems and challenges that life has offer. One can define gamified education as a framework for success, and this wouldn't be too far off the mark.
Creating better minds through gamified education
The human mind is a wonderful thing. Versatile, malleable, yet fragile and prone to becoming stagnant if devoid of stimulation. This is one of the key attributes of gamified education: Its power to inspire the mind and spark a desire to learn better, and more efficiently.
Alfred Mercier, a French-American poet and playwright, once said that “What we learn in pleasure, we never forget.” One of the goals of gamified education is the creation of positive feelings and associations while learning. In other words, to make learning fun and effective. This factor is often overlooked, particularly in adult learning environments, which tends to lead to a lack of interest, disengagement, and ultimately failure.
Gamified education represents a perfect example of the convergence between learning and technology to resolve a problem. Acting in synergy, the sum of these two parts addresses the issues of disinterest, disengagement, and lack of motivation, turning the learning process into a more interactive and enjoyable experience. And it works to reward both the instructor and the learner for their time and effort.
The combination of technology and education is interesting, classroom environments are fast becoming digital hubs where learning is not just based on text-heavy books. E-learning material is increasingly prevalent in schools, universities, and other educational institutions. The adoption of technology creates a beneficial learning framework where the mind is stimulated, rather than simply read to.
Education is one of the cornerstones of human development. A deficient, or a total lack of proper education, leads directly to issues like poverty and social exclusion. It is, therefore, of vital importance, and something that one cannot do without.
Gamifying the educational environment is yet another step to ensure that the learning process is more efficient, accessible, and otherwise conducive to a better outcome. Technology now exists to facilitate the implementation of such a framework, one in which minds become sharper, better, and more adept at future challenges.