How Gamification And Social Networking Impact Learning: Communication Is The Key
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The Impact Of Gamification And Social Networking On Learning

Social media and learning video games have had a huge impact on our society, and it’s not surprising that they have made their way into other aspects of our lives, including the workplace and education.

What Is Gamification?

Gamification is using the standard elements of game playing (badges, levels, leaderboards) and applying it to other areas or activities like learning and training. It can also be used in the real world to encourage engagement with a customer, for example, in a marketing setting. Gamification improves the way learning takes place by immersing the experience of the user into an activity that is seen as fun or enjoyable. But the major benefit of gamification is that it can foster engagement and spur motivation to learn.

Gamification In Learning

Gamification in learning operates under the assumption that the kind of engagement gamers get, can be used in the educational realm by facilitating learning and influencing students behavior. Gamification in learning may heighten the processing of the brain of new information by using audio-visual elements, with small bites of information displayed in short time frames and in a repetitive pattern. For example, in the eLearning arena, gamification is a useful tool because today’s students learn differently in comparison to students of the past. Research shows that it is difficult to hold a student’s attention the way that teachers used to. That is why gamification is being used more and more as a credible learning tool for this and future generations.

Elements Of Gamification

It is important to understand what parts of gamification are used to enhance learning. Here are some examples:

  • Students get immediate feedback from their actions and as “players”, they are in control.
  • Scaffolded learning" can be used by using challenges that increase the difficulty throughout the lesson.
  • Students can show mastery by achieving higher levels based on their learning.
  • Progress indicators are used (points, badges, and leaderboards).
  • Learning is coupled with a social connection that encourages social learning.

Benefits Of Gamification In Learning

Gamification in learning offers benefits to both the learner and the trainer.

  1. A big benefit to gamification is that students feel ownership over their learning and are more relaxed: they know that in case they fail, they can try again. It is a proven fact that dopamine, a pleasure-giving chemical, is released when people either do something where the outcome is uncertain or if they are having fun. Gamification accomplished both and releases enough dopamine to encourage them to continue as well as increases retention because they feel more connected with the material. Gamification ultimately turns “have to learn” into “want to learn”.
  2. Another benefit is that student learning is more visible because of the “progress indicators” I mentioned earlier. Gamification may also unearth a more intrinsic reason to learn. Learning also takes place because students are more comfortable in a gaming environment that in the typical classroom setting.
  3. Gamification also has benefits for real-world situations that students will face in the workforce. One big advantage that gamification brings to the table is its ability to teach students how to learn and how to think. Those skills translate into real-world skills like time management, competition, and communication, sparking creativity and imagination. Gamification is sharing, and it builds the learner’s confidence using collaborative tools. When students gamify in groups, it boosts the brains function and promotes healthy activity in the brain. No matter what form they take, gamification in learning is an incredible education method and has it all—education, learning, and assessment all wrapped up in a dynamic learning environment.

Examples Of Gamification

Now that we know what gamification is, and how it can be used to increase learning, what are some examples of gamification?

In the corporate world, a good example would be the game Ribbon Hero 2. PC World gives this game four-stars because it helps learners to master the basics of Microsoft Office in a game format. The program tracks learners’ progress and links them with Facebook. This lets learners share and compete with other learners.

Virtonomics is another game that allows university students to experience strategic learning and is played by over 1 million learners across the planet. The players live in a business-oriented community, and the story centers around the economy; so the students play the part of business persons, scientists, and entrepreneurs, all competing to bring success to their own company.

Social Networking And Learning

A partner to gamification and learning is the concept of social networking. There is no doubt that students from almost every country in the world are actively engaged in social networking, and that it has become a part of mainstream culture. It just makes sense for education programs to implement them as an effective tool for learning. In fact, one study reports nearly all U.S. students who have internet access use social networking apps for blogging and online collaboration. So, what effect does social networking have on education and learning? In a survey, 59% of students said that they talk about education-related matters through social networks, when half said that most of these are specifically related to homework.

Social media is playing an ever-increasingly important role in all of our lives. Each day, hundreds of thousands of students use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and many other social networks. They use them to stay in touch with friends and peers, organize events, read the news and discover what’s trending.

Recent research has shown that a large proportion of college students who use technology apps to learn, feel that they should also be tailored to fit their needs as social media feeds. In the past, social media tools like Facebook and Twitter were mainly used to socially interact, but are now being used as a tool that students leverage for learning.

Educators realize this fact and have built virtual study groups into their course to increase student learning. The use of blogs and micro-blogs have mirrored the increased use of blogs as a social networking tool. Social learning also changes the focus of learning from the “teacher” to the “group” as the provider of knowledge. These groups are called social learning networks and are the result of interaction between learners, teachers and the learning environment. Collaborative learning is an important part of social learning networks because everyone works together and combines their respective skills to solve the problem at hand.

Blogging And Social Learning

Blogging creates great chances for students to write and publish their work on a scale larger than just within the realm of their classroom. Blogs are integrative and can include multimedia, which gives students a better learning experience. A study of several thousand faculty members revealed 80% of them said that blogging was the most popular social platform they used, and it allows students to write blogs related to coursework. Students found that creating their own blog was easy to do, and it served as a collaborative authoring tool for group assignments and projects. Students discovered that blogs created a unique type of student engagement.

Social Media And Learning

I have seen an acceptance by educational institutions recently as social media has gained credibility as a trusted source of information and a platform where organizations can work together with users. Social network tools give students and institutions many ways to improve learning methods.

The great thing about using social media is that students can learn who the experts are in particular fields and subjects. When they start following these experts, they learn more and gain useful content from them, this empowers students to produce greater results.

Here are a few examples of social media platforms that can be used to enhance learning and create professional connections and access to experts in a student’s field of interest:

  • LinkedIn
    LinkedIn gives students the chance not just to learn and collaborate with each other, but even to reach out to professionals and industry-leaders within their fields to get jobs, internships, and mentors.
  • YouTube and Facebook
    These platforms can be used to communicate campus news, make announcements and provide students with useful information. This builds engagement between educators and students which helps address many student issues through the group interactions.
  • Learning Management Systems (LMS)
    Most LMSs have built-in social media integration, and this drives instant interaction between the users and the system thus strengthening student participation and making collaboration on team projects much easier.

Conclusion

This article has explored the reasons why gamification and social networking can be used effectively to enhance learning. Gamification is also an innovative tool used in the workplace to enhance training and build a workforce that uses collaboration to help companies succeed in a digital world.

Social networking, on the other hand, is no longer just a fad that is used only by the young, who spend their time communicating with others. It's part of the fiber of their being, and educators need to capitalize on this technology to nurture the youth and use the social media tools available to them to enhance the learning experience.

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