If one says that modern human beings have a shorter attention span than goldfish, it is not an exaggeration. The little fish can focus for nine seconds. Whereas the average focusing span of a human being is below eight seconds in this time.
These decreasing attention levels are driven by people’s constant use of technology. One study found that people’s dependence on digital stimulation has become so high that 67% of men and 25% of women would prefer to experience an electric shock rather than doing nothing for 15 minutes.
Children are no different. They occupy a hyper stimulating world and find it difficult to sit through a 40 minute lesson or focus on a single task. Many schools and universities are now turning to the very technology that can be such a distraction. One of the avenues they are exploring is gamification - integrating games and their principles into learning.
A research has shown that gamification has the potential to boost student learning and motivation. A recent study found that teens spend an average of nine hours each day on their devices, with nearly four of these hours spent playing games.
But schools are starting to realise that merely putting devices in pupils’ hands won’t magically restore their attention during lessons. Children need new teaching methods to accompany these new devices. To this end, some schools are turning to gamification.
Gamification normally involves game-like elements such as leaderboards, levels and badges. These are underpinned by storylines and delivered using creative and appealing aesthetics. Leaderboards rank participants, while levels typically give the player additional benefits. Badges are symbols of achievement.
In a sense this is how education has always worked. Individual examinations are challenges, passed across a number of years - or levels. Pupils then earn a certificate, or badge. But a qualification is not a gamified experience because it doesn’t adequately fulfil the key principles of a well designed game: clearly defined goals, a transparent scoring mechanism, frequent feedback, a personal choice of approach and consistent coaching.