The idea of ‘gamifying’ education excites, motivates, and enhances the educational experience for many learners. However, joining games with learning experiences can frighten or down-right infuriate others. Personally, I think any experience that helps the learner love learning and want to know more is worth our time and research. I think that joining games and education is a great opportunity for educators.
There are many different ways to join games and education and many educators already have joined the two in their classrooms. There are plenty of skill-based practice games and with the inclusion of applications and mobile learning there are even more opportunities, especially for young learners. However, as the learner matures, they may have little interest in the educational games that are marketed to schools. To keep these learners interested, we need access to games that allow the learner to grow via tangential learning. The learner needs to be interested in the game and want to participate by choice. This provides motivation and a stronger ability to understand what is shared in the gaming experience. Whether the educational information be shared via Wikipedia, game index, or just blurbs of information thought the game itself, the learner seeks to know more because they have the motivation to move forward and learner more.
I strongly feel that motivation is one of the biggest factors in the success of educational experiences for learners. We can drill and practice or force information upon the learner as much as we like, but that will not create an environment of retentive learning. It will also turn many learners away and create a distaste for life-long learning. When the learner begins to pair learning with distaste, the damage has been done. If the learner wants to learn because of the excitement they feel in an educational experience, the teacher has only to help the learner draw the connections between the game and the learning.