How the gamification trend is shaping classroom design

Video games, mobile devices, and virtual reality are being used in classroom lessons

Classroom design is taking on new forms as elements of game play are incorporated into higher education, Laura Devaney reports for eSchool News.

Traditional classroom instruction does not reflect the kind of immersive learning that today's students seek, says Robert Brodnick, founder of Brodnick Consulting Group. Students want learning experiences that engage and excite them.

"The real driving force behind why gamification is hitting the learning environment is that the more people engage in something, the more easily they learn or adapt to it," Brodnick says. "Gamification, the fun side of serious play, really gets people engaged. It opens us up in new ways. It's very different than content collection and testing based on your ability to remember something."

Also see: Developing game-based learning in the classroom

According to Brodnick, there are three major factors behind the gamification trend:

1: Maker co-learning spaces

These spaces combine elements of the maker movement, design thinking, and entrepreneurship to promote hands-on learning.

"Learning by doing...has totally disrupted what a classroom should look like," Brodnick says. "We know now that everything needs to be on wheels. We want things that can be used rapidly. Students are on their feet. They're sitting, doing, moving."

2: Immersive visual simulation

Virtual reality has given students the opportunity to explore subjects through deep sensory experiences. For example, students in a science class could virtually step inside a chemical reaction as it occurs.

3: Learning without boundaries

Handheld devices are an essential part of many students' lives, which means that learning doesn't end in the classroom.

"Learning is happening out of the classroom, more and more, as students are increasingly connected to each other and to information through their phones," Brodnick says. "As you move around throughout the day, you have learning experiences, and it's having a significant impact on how campuses [are] designed. You might not need as many classrooms, or as many bookshelves in libraries."

These methods may sound futuristic, but the gamification of classrooms has already begun.

A version of the video game Minecraft has been available in classrooms since 2011, and Microsoft is currently in the process of revamping and expanding a new version for classroom use.

A new course in the Pennsylvania State University College of Education's Learning Design and Technology program teaches educators how to incorporate commercial video games into their lessons.

The University of California, Irvine, is launching an e-sports and gaming initiative this fall. An arena with high-end gaming PCs, a stage for video game competitions, and a live webcasting studio will be built at the student center (Noonoo, eSchool News, 1/20; Devaney, eSchool News, 5/4).

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