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Gamification Trends in Education: Level-Up to a College Degree

gamification-trendsYou’re fascinated with statistics, percentages and fractions, and how they can apply to daily life. You have always wanted to be the banker in Monopoly, you’re a role-playing games (RPG) video gamer and the ring leader in strategy games such as Settlers of Catan. In fact, it’s probably safe to say you’re in it to win it because, in the end, you will be rewarded.

Gamification is said to be exactly this—applying game thinking or game mechanics into a non-game context to make them more fun and entertaining. It has also been said to be one of the most important technology trends in recent history.

In fact, Al Gore called games the “new normal” in a 2011 Games for Change Festival presentation about the power of gamification.’s chief scientist, J.P. Rangaswami, even said in a separate presentation at ReadWriteWeb’s 2011 2Way Summit that gamification is the “future of work.”

But that was just in 2011.

Since then, the term gamification has blown up in Google searches—with a search volume of more than 14,000 searches per month. As a planet, we’ve spent more than 3 billion hours a week playing video and computer games—that’s a lot of screen time.

But gamification isn’t just about Assassin’s Creed, Fable III and Skyrim. Colleges and universities are starting to use gamification to improve student experience and increase retention of the material.

A few subject matter experts leaned in on this topic, so let’s take a look at what they had to say about the biggest trends in the online classroom and how gamification will impact you as a student.

Online classroom vs. online education sites

“There’s a difference in education in the online classroom versus online education sites like Khan Academy,” said Jacob Morgan, principal of Chess Media Group. “Many of these online education sites offer points, badges, and progress notifications to help students get to the next level.”

The difference between the online classroom and online education sites is simple: cost. Typically, online education sites such as Khan Academy, EdX, Coursera, Open Education Database, and iTunes U are all mostly-free online education options. Whereas an online classroom would be used in a degree program offered by a college or a university, and through that option, there would be many ways to earn your degree online.

What are some of the trends in gamification?

College classroom methods are evolving with time, but some are still stuck in the past. Today’s online students need encouragement through points, badges and progress notifications. Lucky for you, there are colleges and universities out there offering college degrees that incorporate all of these options and employ the latest gamification methods. But what can you expect for the future?

“Colleges will start to put focus on points and badges instead of just letter grades, in addition to creating group challenges where teams compete,” Morgan says. He explains that the team competitions operate like a “hackathon” concept, wherein computer gurus from across the country collaborate on software challenges.    

Course management systems are also becoming big players in the online classroom gamification space, including products like Youtopia. This product lets instructors upload all student users and sort them into groups. From there, instructor can create challenges based off academic performance to encourage positive behaviors--or, assigning a point value to each assignment and a badge for completion of a project.

“Anything that helps students deeply engage, handle assignments in different ways and enjoy their classes more will improve the overall quality of their learning experience,” says Mike Buchanon, manager of learning applications at Collegis Education.

Self-paced competency courses are also on the rise. These courses leverage game-based learning mechanics to motivate students as they master subjects and curriculum. Innovative and self-paced course platforms help to increase engagement within learning and improve the classroom setting for students.

“These real-world, authentically assessable, deep-learning experiences are getting more and more traction with educators,” says Dr. Jeff Borden, vice president of instruction and academic strategy and director at Center for Online Learning NCS Person Inc.

Are these gamification trends right for you?

If you’re fascinated with the idea of strategizing and earning points to level up to your college degree, gamification might be a good option for you to pursue. If you struggle to prioritize your time when it comes to gaming, heading down the path of gamification probably isn’t the best move you could make.

Gamification trends in online learning may be bright and shiny, but it’s not for everyone pursuing a college degree. If you have questions, take time to learn more about the online learning space. You may also still need time to weigh the pros and cons of online learning vs. traditional education, so take the time to understand the differences of both models.

If you’re ready to take the plunge into the gamification online learning space, take a look at Rasmussen College’s Flex Choice option—choose YOUR pace and YOUR price.

Kendall Bird

Kendall is a Social Media Strategist at Collegis Education who is focused on bringing awareness and engagement to Rasmussen College's social media properties. She is passionate about helping others, the power of education and building strategies that put the needs of students first. 


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