Towards a framework for applying
Gamification in Education
Dr. Panagiotis Zaharias
Presented at 7th International Conference in Open and
Distance Learning - ICODL 2013
• Gamification is the use of game design elements
and game mechanics in non-game contexts.
• Mechanics such as assigning points to
activities, advancing through levels, using badges
as status-markers, integrating surprise and
– to increase
motivation, engagement, effectiveness, loyalty
• … the ultimate goal is to change people’s
behaviour for the better.
Playful design to affect behavior
• The funtheory.com
The piano stairs
Gamification in education
• An old idea… with poor implementation so far
• Several game-like elements have long been
used in education.
– For example, students are graded on their work
and on their progress.
– The grades are in fact something similar to badges
or points earned in games.
– If students perform well, they “level up” at the
end of every academic year.
Gamification in education
• However traditional educational process fails
to engage students
– Students would not describe classroom-based
activities as playful experiences.
• We need to understand what makes computer
games so appealing to players and how those
aspects could be applied in education to
improve student motivation and engagement
Education problems and
Cognitive domain: main aim is to give
learners clear, actionable tasks and
immediate rewards instead of vague longterm benefits
Emotional domain: a major limitation of
the typical educational systems concerns
the management of negative experiences
Social domain: it is important for learners
to identify themselves as scholars
Problems in cognitive domain
Usually learners are told what to do without Games deliver concrete challenges which are
understanding the larger benefits of their tailored to the player’s skill level, increasing
the difficulty as the player’s skill expands
Usually most of the students are not aware In games there are some series of short-term
of their progress until they take a test or tasks which players repeatedly try to
complete in a trial and error process until
the necessary skill level is acquired.
It is difficult for the students to follow their Games provide multiple and customizable
routes to success,
customized learning paths
Allow players to choose their own sub-goals
within the larger task following non-linear
Provide a certain degree of freedom to
choose which task to accomplish depending
on personal preferences
• Gamification provide the means for the
redefinition of failure as a necessary and
valuable part of the learning process.
Problems in emotional domain
Hard for the learners to overcome
experiences such as failures and low
Games are built so as to help players persist
through negative emotional experiences
and even transform them into positive ones
In education the stakes of failure are Games succeed by making feedback cycles
rapid and keeping the stakes low
high and the feedback cycles long
• It is important for learners to:
– provide social credibility and recognition to each
other for academic achievements.
– try on new identities and roles.
Problems in social domain
Games provide mechanisms for social
In current educational environments formations, guilds etc.
recognition can be mostly provided by
the teachers/instructors and learners’ Recognition and social feedback is
roles are quite limited
provided by peers
Gamification in e-learning
• A work-in-progress study with two main
A set of gamified
Interfaces as a
gamification layer on