Five EdTech Companies That Are Taking Gamification to the Next Level
Gamification has grown in popularity as teachers and educators realize the wealth of potential that games offer their students, no matter the age. Fast fading is the idea that video games are a waste of time. Children these days are among the most tech-savvy people precisely because they have been playing games on a range of devices for nearly their entire lives. Gamification is not a new concept (Oregon Trail was a unique blend of fun and learning back in the 1980s), but it is only recently where educators actually began to embrace it for its potential.
As gamification grows in popularity, some Edtech companies have not only embraced it but have found ways to take gamification to a whole new level.
This is a company that is backed by some of the biggest names in tech, such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, National Science Foundation, and Marvel. GameDesk is a nonprofit, unlike anything you have encountered. Their focus is on taking the modern classroom and transforming it into a futuristic marvel, and it does this entirely through a game-based learning initiative.
The nonprofit has four major initiatives, each with a different approach to learning and teaching using games at the core.
- GameDesk Studios is focused on using games to engage and teach students a range of content.
- Educade is attempting to revolutionize the way teachers present lessons through a slew of interactive apps and hands-on instruction
- PlayMaker School focuses on student empowerment through learning that is based on discovery and creating. This is a more real-world approach as it seeks to teach students to think for themselves and to be more innovative in solving problems.
- GameDesk Institute gives students the necessary tools to conduct research and work on professional development. It includes an outreach program for at-risk students.
While there is a bit of overlap between the different initiatives, they all have their own focus that strives to make today’s classroom more accessible and engaging.
If you are interested in following and tracking their initiatives and any related news, you can find them on Twitter (@GameDesk), or you subscribe to their newsletter (at the bottom of the home page).
The need for people who can code is still growing because too few students are going into the field. Trinket is tackling this problem head on, and they know their target audience. Students do not want to be trapped at a computer all day, nor do they want to spend an hour or two sitting at a computer coding. Trinket gives them a platform where they can work from anywhere on a mobile device.
It should come as no surprise that many of the things developed on Trinket are games – even the learning aspects of the app are akin to games. If you are interested in introducing coding into your classroom, Trinket gives you everything you need, including a way of giving students a real-time coding challenge. It is fun, engaging, and everything that people think learning to code is not. They even have a musical component to help students learn about music in gaming and app development.
No two people learn exactly the same, yet classrooms usually offer only a single approach to problems and solutions. CK-12 offers solutions that go above and beyond to ensure that you can give your students a more personalized (and customized) look at what they are learning.
The best way to do that is with games and lessons that are online. Students can go back and learn about things at their own pace, review lessons you covered, and get an assessment of how well they understood the lessons. There are also some amazing simulations that illustrate some of the most challenging fields that really can’t be followed on paper (such as Physics and Chemistry).
The best way to understand what they have to offer is to go to their website and peruse the many areas and games that are available. There is definitively a math and science heavy approach, but there are other available lessons and games for a few of the arts.
With the rise of globalization, being able to learn to communicate in other languages is becoming increasingly necessary. The problem is that the perception most people have about learning languages is almost entirely negative. This is because language learning requires dedication and the ability to follow through even when things get tough.
Language learning is one of the best areas for gamification, and few have mastered how to do that like Duolingo.
The site offers 18 full courses on a range of languages. There are several languages currently being beta tested (you can join them if you want to help them make better lessons). There are also a number of languages that are currently in the incubation period, and once they reach beta you can start to learn and provide feedback.
The lessons are not just about real world languages either. One of the languages currently being incubated is Klingon, a language from Star Trek. It goes to show that the makers are game for trying things that are both common and uncommon to make something that anyone can enjoy.
Each of the lessons are divided up into very easy to manage sessions. They provide a daily goal for you and track your progress so that you can see what you have learned. Over time, you will need to go back and refresh what you have mastered so that you do not forget, and this does count toward your daily goal, then you can continue with the next lesson. The lessons are also presented in a way that makes it easy to understand, remember, and learn the spellings and sounds. It also is incredibly easy to work into your regular routine. You can download the app if you want to keep up your language lessons on the go.
You can follow them on Twitter (@duolingo) for the latest in news about Duolingo and the future of language learning. If you have questions, you can contact the Duolingo team or talk with the Community.
No matter how well-designed games are, sometimes flashcards are the fastest most efficient way to learn. The problem is that they can be bulky and difficult to carry, making them impractical for use outside of the home. This is where BrainScape has found a niche and turned it into something that offers the ease and customization of games, but with a focus on flashcards.
With an extensive list of possible flashcards topics, you can create your own or ask the program to make the cards for you. Select your deck, and then you can get started memorizing the terms and phrase you need.
The biggest problem with flashcards is that people tend to focus on the areas where they do best, believing that they need to refresh these ideas, so they do not forget them constantly. The problem is that you don’t progress when you always study what you know instead of focusing on your weaker areas. This gives you the false impression that you are doing better than you actually are. Brainscape does not allow for this. Instead, it forces you to focus and learn the things where you are weak. This means you will make real progress. There will be some refreshers on your strong areas as well so that you don’t forget, it just won’t be where you start your lessons.
Gamification can be used in many different ways. Whether your students need a better set of flashcards, hands-on experience, or a more memorable experience, gamification gives you the tools to create something that will engage your students. These five companies understand how games offer students a more customized approach, and they know how to maximize the potential of games to educate better. By following these companies, you are likely to find that your classroom quickly becomes a place of engaged learning.