I’ve been using gamification in teaching history for ages. Or at least as long as I’ve been teaching history. So, today I am going tell you how I have gamified my history lessons. Below is a list of gamification elements and an example how I have used it on my history lessons.
- Narratives and stories:
Stories and narratives are the golden ticket to any gamified thing you do. This is where I always start. A good story is the core of it all. Usually I come up with a backstory that leads the students to our topic or theme. For example in one story the students were being captured by Romans and then sold on as gladiators. Or vikings raided the village where the students lived and recruited them.
- Character creations:
It always helps to look at things as someone else. It makes it easier for the students to empathize into the story when they have a role. The character creation process itself is also a valuable experience in history. Because you need to make your character convincing, there cannot be a gun wielding soldier in Ancient Egypt, right?
- Mission and tasks:
In my historical games there is a person or an institution that gives missions and tasks to the players. For example, in the viking game the mission and tasks were given by the viking chief and in my gladiator game the tasks were given by the gladiator chief or the Caesar himself. Then again sometimes the twists in the story creates the missions or tasks. For example, all of the philosophers were called to Delphi by the oracle to discuss and foresee the future of Greece and Sparta. The philosopher’s task was to take part in the discussion and to assess the truthfulness of the oracle’s prophecy using their debating skills.
- Resources and rewards:
When completing a mission or a task there is usually a reward in my games a. When gladiators successfully completed all of their tasks they were given their citizenship and an official diploma to back it up which was signed by Caesar himself. Another example would be when peasants completed their task, they were given a horse or a plow during my game that focused on the middle ages.
During play the players get instant feedback on their tasks. The feedback is build into the story and an in-game character or an institution is the one who gives the feedback. Usually when we finish a game there is a feedback conversation where we assess how we did and whether what has happened,during the game session, could be possibly happen in real life.
- Narratives and stories:
So, here are the elements that I mostly use when I am building a game or gamifying topics. Of course there are more elements than that and of course different topics and situations demand different kinds of elements. But those are the ones that I use most frequently.
What I have noticed is that these elements add to the mix engagement, motivation, hands on approach, positive atmosphere and they turn the lesson into a learning experience. Gamifying elements can bring any topic, subject or a theme into life and turn them into a meaningful learning experiences.
Until next time!
GAME ON AND LEVEL UP!
Author: Tomi Tolonen