Gamify Learning: 20+ Resources

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 11.56.35 PM“Games are an extraordinary way to tap into your most heroic qualities.” - Jane McGonigal, Author of Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World

People enjoy playing video games. People worldwide spend about 3 billion hours a week playing them (McGonigal, 2011). When we play video games we learn, build, collaborate, problem-solve, explore, discover, and achieve goals. We also are deemed heroes or champions for investing so much time playing. What if learning were more like playing a video game? Paul Maglione, in his presentation, Unlocking Learner Motivation in the Age of the Digital Native, highlights ways games motivate and engage students:

  • Social- Now video games tend to have social forums or virtual worlds where players interact, allow collaborative playing, and allow players to talk to each other with headsets.
  • Engaging worlds- It’s a representation of the world individuals want to be immersed in with visuals, multimedia, popular music, graphics and more
  • Goal-oriented- Aim to reach the next level; each level is more challenging, but achievable.
  • Learning surrounds us- characters must collect items that help with the journey and must search for these all around them
  • Positive stress- learning is difficult but most learners are willing to invest several hours to complete tasks when they can reach an outcome they want
  • Teaches us to deal with failure- learners keep trying at a level till they achieve it. They aren’t punished for failing, but are allowed to try again with no penalty.

Check out how to make your learning resemble video games in the slide presentation below.

Make the Learning Resemble Video Games

You don’t have to gamify your curriculum all at once. Try small steps and adjustments. A few ways teachers are gamifying their curriculums are by assessing with points and badges versus grades. Instead of assigning homework, bookwork, and worksheets, send them on learning missions:

Mission: Snap a photo of graffiti you think could be art and tell us through an audio recording why you think it is art versus just graffiti.
Tools: Fotobabble App or visit
Points: 10 points for turning it in and 5 points for posting a short reflection in your blog.

Find many more ideas in the bookmarks below. Click on the title to visit that resource. Many are examples of teachers who have gamified their curriculum and offer tips and free resources.


Try one of these ideas to motivate students.

If you enjoyed these ideas, you may want to get your copy of The 30 Goals for Teachers or my $5.99 ebook, Learning to Go, which has digital/mobile activities for any device and editable/printable handouts and rubrics. Subscribe for FREE to receive regular updates!

Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell),, and on her blog,, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at


  1. Hello,

    This is an interesting concept. You’d still be requiring authentic participation from your students, like your example showed with the graffiti post; but they’d be doing it in the mindset of achieving a higher level in a gaming sense. I do recognize that students will play games for hours to try and achieve points or levels, etc.; so it makes sense to try and present your assignments as ‘challenges’ and your assessments for grades as level bosses to beat or something. That could totally motivate students to persevere.

    Thanks for the post,
    Mary Alice
    Here is a link to the EDM510 class blog, and, is my own personal blog.

  2. I love these ideas! I just attended a PD today about making our classrooms digitally rich. Most of the focus was on video games, and how scientists are supporting the notion that video games can redefine education. I feel that this is the language of most of my students. Some of the play video games more than they do any other activity besides sleep (some of them anyway). Many teachers mentioned that they just don’t have the resources to incorporate digital gaming or virtual simulations into their classrooms. I think that the suggestion that you have given, could be a great start.

    • I agree, teachers like myself who grew up in an environment absent of this type of technology must meet the students at there level. We need to make learning meaningful and exciting. Professional development in this area is a must. Making our classrooms digitally rich and using what students love will make learning something students will want to do.

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