Gamification in Physical Education classes

Gamification is one of the latest tools to be integrated into our daily lives. Something that makes it much easier to enjoy more satisfying experiences when performing any type of task, as occurs in learning.

Video games are becoming more and more present in our daily lives. Moreover, since the rise of the Internet, online games have become the favorite hobby of a large part of the population. Different elements contribute to this success, such as the attractiveness of the games themselves, the varied themes they offer and a series of psychological rewards that, despite how frugal they seem, have the effect of encouraging us to continue playing and exceed our results.

These same techniques, once separated from the game world, are applied in more and more areas of life. A discipline that transforms those subjects in which it is implemented and that is an interesting novelty when it comes to promoting the functioning of business teams, in the treatment of certain ailments or in education. We will precisely focus on this last aspect, analyzing in detail the operation of gamification in physical education.

What is gamification

Gamification is nothing more than the application to real life of the system of psychological strategies used in video games, to achieve greater interaction with the player. It is common for today’s games to include medals, achievements, rewards and another series of advantages that are achieved as we pass stages and screens. Therefore, the idea is that through the game these small triumphs are obtained, to which the human mind gets used to. A new application of the typical reward game.

Applying this approach outside the video game environment, many options arise to develop the technique within any school group. Something important at any age, but even more so when it comes to gamification in physical education in primary school, where the different stages of development of the students, as corresponds to each course, play against us when it comes to establishing patterns of behavior or organize any other task.

educational gamification

From all the above arises the so-called educational gamification. This kind of discipline becomes one more tool at the service of the teacher when it comes to achieving the objectives established by the curriculum for each subject. The main objectives of this discipline would be the ability to generate the learning of those contents corresponding to the subject, the modification of improper or unwanted behavior and the development of the critical spirit of the students. 

All this without forgetting the related values, such as strategic thinking , cooperation or any others that are inserted into the gaming experience, as happens in many real video games.

Its application in physical education

As a preliminary phase, it is important to distinguish the game from the gamification. In the physical education class it is common to use games and sports as part of the subject, but this does not imply a complete gamification process. For it to develop, different elements must be present, complementary to each other and with which the participants go one step further than what the mere game offers. This brings us to the two types of gamification that exist within this field.

Shallow – This type of basic gamification uses a simple rewards policy, where trophies, medals, stars, or points are awarded to each party member based on their performance. It is the simplest solution to apply, but its effectiveness is doubtful, especially in the long term.

Deep : In this case, a more intense interaction occurs, generating elements of intrinsic motivation and that really encourage users to work to earn the rewards. It is the most recommended, especially for the long term and for the process to be intensive.

Practical applications of gamification in physical education

Given that the gamification process is very extensive and sometimes too abstract, we close our article with some examples of activities related to the world of physical education that can be efficiently gamified.

Sports circuit: Using QR codes and devices capable of reading them, exercise routines can be designed in which the players go through each of the stations and thus know what they have to do. In addition, tracks can be added to each station to get to the next one, like a gymkhana.

Artistic activities: The application of new technologies is very interesting in this type of activity, with different approaches available. One of them is the use of video games with a camera for learning and performing choreographies, which would then be shown in the real world. Tools such as YouTube can also be used to learn about them or even to show them later, although always controlling the diffusion.

Sports activities: In general sports activities, the use of smart devices by players is interesting, with which to control their performance. Among them, we would have heart rate monitors with GPS to measure the distance traveled or the number of steps taken during sports practice, or the use of activity bracelets or a sports watch for those exercises suitable for it, such as racket sports. With this data, rankings can be made and specific needs for improvement can be detected.

Additional tools: As a complement to everything mentioned, there are different ICT tools suitable for teachers to intensify the gamification activity, among which we have Classdojo (for control and reward systems), Teammates (for collaboration between classmates) or iMovie (for the generation of digital content). However, the variety of applications is enormous, so finding one suitable for the objectives set will be easy.

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