Why Gamification?

“In order to break the barriers and bad habits we have in our schools and truly transform education, we have to stop playing the game of school and pave the way for new ideas and new ways to learn.”

–  Kasey Bell, Shake Up Learning

In today’s educational system, teachers tend to continue using the same strategies and techniques that have been in use for decades simply because they are comfortable and time-tested. These strategies have their merits, no doubt, but with any pursuit, change must happen to avoid becoming outdated and ineffective.

When we ran our first Google Certification training in the spring of 2017, we found ourselves falling into the same teaching patterns that we are working to change. Our sessions were structured as lectures with us up front and the participants obediently following along. Then we took a test.

Sounds fun, right?

There are so many new and interesting teaching strategies popping up these days, and there is so much expected of teachers, that we often don’t have the time to explore new and innovative ways to inspire our kids to learn. One of these new strategies is called Gamification and it’s the one we chose to exemplify in our new version of the #TRIADvances Google Certification Level 1 training.

Why games? The answer is simple. All I have to say is Madden Football or Candy Crush, and you know what I’m talking about. What if game night happened every day at school? The implications are clear from the get go, but turning theory in to practice requires some creativity. Thankfully, there are some clear guidelines to help get the ball rolling (pun intended).

There are many different versions of gamified learning, and they all have validity, but according to Learning=Theories.com to be truly gamified, the system must include elements of games that are more than just points and competition. It must also include these elements, among others:

Immediate feedback
Scaffolded learning with challenges that increase in difficulty
Progress indicators
Social connection
Player control

We used some of these ideas when we created the #TRIADvances badge program, and we continued to develop it when we added the competition element in the fall of 2017. But with this new version of the Level 1 Google Certification training, we have incorporated as many of these elements as we could.

To learn about the game we’ve created for this round of Google Cert, visit this page.

As you can tell, it’s more than just playing a Jeopardy-type game once a week. It’s a complete structure for the curriculum. While this will take time to create and manage, the overall benefits of adding game elements to the classroom cannot be ignored.

From the Experts

Michael Matera is a sixth grade social studies teacher who wrote the book Explore Like a Pirate and has pioneered the concept of gamified classrooms for every teacher. With his book, he shares his wealth of knowledge and experience through Twitter, YouTube and his blog ExploreLikeaPirate.com. For some simple tips on getting started with gamification, check out this video playlist he created that discusses each of the important elements of a gamified classroom. The video below is his introduction to getting started with gamification.


Adam Powley, a high school social studies teacher in South Carolina is one of the leaders of this movement and provides some great insight into how his classroom works in this video podcast. He also blogs frequently about gamification and how he uses it on his website Game Inspired Design. His classroom is centered around the concept of a post-apocalyptic world where history has been lost and the students have to work to recreate the country’s past.

Research and Examples of Gamified Classrooms

Rebuild History through the Zombie Apocalypse: https://sites.google.com/mcpsmd.net/zombienation/home

Gamification Design Infographic: https://elearninginfographics.com/gamification-design-tips-infographic/

3 Keys to Engage Learners Through Gamification: https://elearningindustry.com/engaging-your-learners-with-gamification-3-keys

School as a Game: http://corelaboratewa.org/school-as-a-game/

How to Avoid Gamification Fails: https://elearningindustry.com/5-gamification-fails-how-fix