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  • Writer's pictureRabbi David Paskin

Gamification: The Points Do Matter

I’ve never been much into games. In fact, the sheer number of pieces in a Monopoly game stresses me out. Likewise, I’ve never really gotten into online gaming. Sure I’ll play a word game on my phone but just to pass the time if I have a few minutes free. But I am an outlier.

On the iOS app store alone there are over 984,000 games available for download and is the single most popular category of app in the store. Apple brought in 52.3 billion (with a “b”) dollars in revenue from these games.

Long before Apple’s app store opened on July 10, 2008, board games, sports, game shows on tv and all other types of games provided challenge, competition and opportunities for team work that have been important aspects of learning for years. While I’m not a fan of grades in general I remember, vividly, wanting to know, not only my own grade on a test, but also what my peers got so I could compare and know where I stand on the grading “scoreboard.” That competition drives us to want to do better, to perform better - to win.

Competition is not only between people - it can also be internal. If I score three goals in this game, in the next game I want to best myself and score four. And if I only got an 80% on this quiz, regardless of what others got - I want to do better next time. Games provide a necessary incentive to learn and grow.

Games provide a necessary incentive to learn and grow.

If you’ve watched any reality tv lately you know that everything has become gamified - traveling around the world, cooking, relationships. So why not education? Why not use the tools of gamification to inspire and challenge our students (children and adults) to learn more and excel?

There are a number of wonderful digital tools to gamify digital learning experiences. One of the most popular is Kahoot, a quiz game that you can customize and play in real time with your learners. I’m also a big fan of which has a library of built-in, customizable games that you can bring into your learning.

If you are teaching over Zoom, there is a growing library of Zoom apps that you can use right in Zoom. What’s great about this is that your learners don’t have to open another website or app to participate (that can be tricky for the more technologically challenged.)

If you are teaching an asynchronous environment (we’ll be talking about that in more depth in a future post) you can create a self-guided class that has gamification built right in. Learners can earn points for completing modules and assessments. With a leaderboard, learners have that visual feedback to challenge them to do more and learn more and rise up in the rankings.

As we strive to move in our teaching from sage on the stage to guide on the side, we would also do well to see how we can tap into and leverage the multi-billion dollar a year business that is gaming, that continues to engage and challenge children and adults.


Hot Tip 🔥

Games don't have to be one and done. You can also create long-term gamification of your learning. Why not create a quest during which your students, over a period of time, can earn points while working toward a shared goal?

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