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Gamification: Upgrading the Learning Environment

Submitted by on November 15, 2012 – 5:29 pmNo Comment

  • The same elements that make games enjoyable also make them ideal learning environments.
  • Gaming is especially useful for simulating real-world career scenarios and training students how to respond.
  • Several prestigious institutions now incorporate gaming into their graduate programs.

“Keep sitting there staring at that screen. Atari will rot your brain as fast as Fun Dip rots your teeth.” This may have been a parental warning back in 1985, but things sure have changed since then. Today, universities are discovering that the same elements that make games so mesmerizing also make them ideal learning environments. When we’re engaged with games, our minds are assembling information, recognizing problems, and working towards solutions. Games are an effective platform for simulating real-world scenarios and training students to react wisely under pressure. That’s why gaming is catching on at the undergraduate and graduate levels, even at top academic institutions. Check out this presentation from the SRHE Annual Research Conference that showcases the purpose and benefits of gamifying undergraduate programs:

According to a recent article, we’re seeing an increase in the use of graduate-level gamification to prepare students for careers in industries like healthcare and business. As noted in the article, these top ranking institutions are just a few of those making their marks as graduate-gaming pioneers:

Map of U.S. indicating location of universities using gamification


  • Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi: In a game called Pulse!!, students can guide a 3D avatar through the medical setting to practice some of the most critical patient care skill.
  • University of Washington: The Foster School of Business piloted enterprise simulations that incorporates business lessons from local companies like Starbucks and Nike
  • Duke University Medical Center: The Human Simulation and Patient Safety Center at Duke’s teaching hospital is employing gaming as a key part of teaching students to interact with patients and improve their performance on the job
  • University of Connecticut: Graduate student Karen Zook, with the help of Roger Travis, is bringing Latin back to life through a game called Operation Lapis.
  • Bristol University: Paul Howard-Jones, a professor of neuroscience has developed his own “TWIG” (Teaching With Immersive Gaming) method.
  • Harvard Medical School: Dr. Bryan Bergeron, a researcher in Health Science and Technology, has developed several health care-related games that are used by Harvard’s students and other medical schools across the country.
Share your experience: Have you taught or considered teaching using a gamified learning environment? Use the comments box below to tell us your experience or thoughts on gamifying your own course.

Whitney KilgoreBy Whitney Kilgore Vice President, Learning Technologies




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