Still the best example of educational gamification!

Submitted 4 years ago
Michael M.
Michael M.
Mesa Unified School District # 4
Mesa AZ, US
My Rating

My Take

I would like to say something here about how Khan Academy applies gamification to math learning.
Any website with the sheer quantity of instructional and practice materials provided by Khan Academy would be a valuable resource. Sal’s natural talent for making abstract concepts understandable is unique. The leveling algorithms are as well-executed as anything out there. But the real genius of Khan Academy is the way everything works so well: no drama, minimal distraction in terms of animation and sound effects, simple, elegant graphic design all blend to produce an experience that makes math fun. When I was in school, I hated math. Math was difficult and frustrating, and my level of engagement ranged from compliant to apathetic. Many years later, as an educator and a parent of students, I appreciate the logical beauty of math, and understand it better than before - but it will never be on my list of favorite things. Yet somehow, when I am doing math in Khan Academy, it is difficult to stop. This is not fun in any normal sense of the word. There are no games here, nothing entertaining. The fun comes from an induced state of flow, an involuntary absorption in the process of learning concepts and solving problems. You have to experience this to understand, as it goes beneath the conscious mind deep down into the limbic system - the “reptile brain” - at the level of instinctual reflex. This is gamification at its best: game elements have been integrated into the instructional context so as to leverage brain neurochemistry, all for the purpose of effective math learning.

How I Use It

I am en educational technology specialist. When I was a classroom teacher, I encouraged my students to use Khan Academy for math practice; the breakthrough came when I started using it for flipped lessons (students are exposed to new learning as homework, through videos or other materials, then have the nect class session to ask specific questions, share insights, practice skills, work in small groups - freeing up time for the teacher to focus on learning gaps). There is a wealth of material here to draw from, all high quality, that students can explore as an introduction or as review. In my current work as a teacher-trainer, I recommend Khan Academy because it automates a lot of the work that teachers put into formative assessment and remediation in a way that appeals to students and requires little extra time for the teacher to set up.