Gamification is one of the new buzzwords in social media circles. It's the idea that by making non-gaming applications more game-like -- by adding points, badges, levels, titles and other game mechanics -- these apps become more fun and engaging.
We see gamification at work in apps like Foursquare, where "checking in" and giving your location via the app earns you points and potentially the "mayorship" of venues. Even though the term may be new to some, gamification has been used for years for offline services too, such as earning points and unlocking special deals via frequent flyer programs.
The question now is whether (or how) gamification can be used in education. Are there ways in which it can be used to similar ends, to help students feel more involved and engaged in their learning?
In some ways, education is already replete with this sort of thing. You gain points (via assignments) to level up (in grades) and eventually win with a badge (your diploma). But that's not really game-play. The premise behind "gamifying" educational applications and websites is to instigate engagement and collaboration.
To that end, the social learning network OpenStudy has unveiled some new rewards for active participants on the site -- namely, medals and achievements -- a first step in adding game mechanics to its site.