What if I told you that learning could be fun? Yeah, fun. Although learning, and especially formalized learning, is often quasi-serious, the search for methods and approaches to increase engagement and participation among learners has been on for a long time now.
For younger learners, rhythm, songs, role-playing, and stories have often been used with some level of success recorded.
Among older learners, however, these methods may seem a little inappropriate, making inductors rely more on class or group discussions and fieldwork to increase engagement. This method has some noticeable positive impact in increasing engagement during learning. However, there is still much desire from both learners and instructors for a better engaging and memorable learning experience and this casts my mind back to the famous fictitious Hogwarts School from the Harry Potter series.
From a student’s journey into Hogwarts to allocation of houses, attending classes, dining hours, sporting and almost every other activity that goes on in the school has some interesting twist to it which makes the experience of being a student of the school much memorable. For example, a students’ conduct could earn (or lose) points to the student and his/her house, and how about having the colour of the winning house be the theme of the dining hall for an entire semester?
The game-like experience in Hogwarts is so immersive that students can hardly differentiate studies from fun or the competitive environment they find themselves in. Nearly every activity and interaction with other students, teachers, school staff and the school environment itself could have a positive or negative impact on the student or his/her house, and that fact calls for consciousness and intentionality always.
Adopting the Hogwarts model of gamifying schooling beyond the serious and pedantic approach will doubtlessly spur more engagement and motivation to learn as students realize their actions and performance affects not only themselves as individuals, but their respective houses, and the society at large. The feeling that every little effort in your personal academic pursuit may have a greater impact elsewhere increases the sense of belonging and gives students a higher sense of purpose, which in turn increases the likelihood of the student investing greater commitment to study. In addition to greater commitment to study, competence and mastery are also encouraged, especially as a student stands a chance to be reputable and considered a leader in such area of competence. Lastly, giving context and narrative to learning improves students’ immersion and engagement with the process.