The educational system as we know it needs a revamp. Actually, a revamp is not enough. The educational system needs to be restructured. A lot of things need to change, and the sooner that happens, the better.

Too many students drop out of school, and this isn’t the way to get successful citizens to lead their country forward. There are many reasons behind high dropout rates, but many seem to stream from the same sources. One of these is the slow adaptation to the new world. The educational system as we know it was invented for the needs of the industrial times, and it was perfect for those times. But our current times are different. Technology has transformed every aspect of our lives, but education seems to lag behind.

The conveyor belt of education

It’s like students hop on a conveyor belt when they first enroll in an educational institution, then the system pushes them through various levels of difficulty — kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school, college — makes them collect diplomas, and drops them into adulthood and the employment market.

The idea is noble.

The conveyor belt is the problem.

Students fall off the educational conveyor belt all the time. They fall because they don’t quite understand a concept / a lesson / a subject before the system makes them move on to the next one. They get knowledge gaps, which widen and deepen over time.

Sometimes, they can get back on the conveyor belt, other times they just can’t. Other times, even if they could, they choose not to.

Standardized curricula, standardized tests and standardized policies don’t respond to the needs of all students. Nor teachers.

Educators know their students and know how to meet their learning needs. But more often than not, they don’t have much — if any — wiggle room to respond to these needs.

For example, both individual work and group activities need to happen in a classroom. Kids are naturally attuned to one type of learning activity or another. But teachers can’t let them do just the one they like. All students absolutely have to do both types of activities and be graded for them, because that’s what the standards require and teachers have to respect those standards.

How gamification shifted the perspective

The use of gamification in education is a step away from the old ways of doing things, and brings education closer to the future. When teachers include gaming concepts and game-based principles in their instructions — be it online, blended, or face-to-face — they see their students having an improved attitude towards learning and being highly motivated to learn.

Students everywhere enjoy a gamified learning environment, no matter their age. They like the possibility of making mistakes without real consequences. They like being rewarded for their right answers instead of being punished for their wrong ones. They like the recognition they get for their results. And most of all, they like having fun while learning.

Gamification can transform classrooms and can help everyone improve their results. But the mere adoption of gamification in the educational system as we know it is only a revamp. The educational system needs a restructuring, and this may come from gamifying it all.

The gamification of education

Gamifying the entire educational system might be the best solution for it to become again highly effective, and respond to the current and future needs of learning students.

All we have to do is get rid of the conveyor belt. Easier said than done, I know. But it’s not impossible.

When children play and lose, they might try again. But if they lose again, they’ll want another game. When they win, they want to play the same game again, and again, and be better each time. Once they’re satisfied with their results on one game, they’ll be on the lookout for another one — more challenging, or just different.

The gamification of education means letting students try out all subjects and allow them to go as deep as they want into each of them.

In a gamified educational system, all subjects are like big games. Students try out the first level of Maths, for example. They’ll go to the next one, then the next one, and so on, until they no longer win, or no longer want to win. Then they just move on to Chemistry. Or Geography. Or Literature. You name it. They decide how many games they play at once.

The results will be so much different than what the current system allows.

The role of the teacher remains highly important for the good-functioning of this gamified educational system. Teachers also get to move more freely in the system. They still need to be available for students, answer their questions, give them feedback, and most of all, make sure students won’t give up too easily, and guide them towards new games and levels. Both support and guidance are crucial for the success of learners.

The main advantage of a gamified educational system is that, by giving students more control over what they learn at school and how they learn, it allows them to find their passions. Students will find the things they love to do, the things they are good at, and focus on those things more than on others.

Why the gamification of education is so important?

Successful accountants don’t have to know all the capital cities of world states; they have to be good with numbers. Great doctors don’t have to know how to solve advanced math equations; they have to know how the human body works. Architects don’t have to know the chemical composition of chocolate; they have to know all about building stuff. If they have extra knowledge about one thing or another is because they want to, not because they have to.

If adults don’t have to know it all to become successful, why are kids today asked to do this?

As long as students find those areas they are good at and love to do, learning becomes an enjoyable and fruitful journey to successful adulthood. And dropout rates will become a thing of the past.

The gamification of education will do just that.

Author: Livia M

Livia is one of the online voices of NEO by CYPHER LEARNING. She writes about education technology for K-12 and higher ed, gamification, BYOD, as well as other ed-tech subjects.