Redefining failure: Teaching digital age skills with gamification


Students do not learn and consume information as they did a generation ago, just as the skills needed to succeed on a job market are not the same either. The naturally gradual shift that occurs from generation to generation has only been accelerated in the digital age and even further by the pandemic. To close the emerging gap between skills taught and skills needed, higher education institutions need to evolve along with their learners.

Engaging modern learners

Modern learners have spent a big portion of their lives surrounded by phones, cameras, TVs, computers, playing video games – engaging with the world through technology. Consequently, today’s academia is set to compete with tools and platforms programmed to motivate users to engage as much and as often as possible. The traditional classroom model centred mostly around a lecturer conveying information, followed by an assessment, was designed generations ago. In a time when the strengths, weaknesses and needs of today’s learners could hardly be considered.

How do we then adapt our approach in the light of this evolution? How to meet the demands of the constantly changing market?

Turning distant theory into practice

Gamification of learning is one way to address the gaps in management education today. In an increasingly complex world, gamification can help convey information more effectively, translating distant theoretical concepts into practical matters. It helps students to connect with the learning material, dig deeper into the nuances of a specific problem and engage with the material in their own way, in contrast to one-size-fits-all information received by an instructor. Instead of memorizing content, gamification can shift the focus to practising skills such as problem-solving, analytical thinking and communication. It can consequently improve motivation, foster curiosity, imagination and creativity.

Reducing the fear and price of academic failure

Most importantly, gamification creates a safe and positive learning environment by reducing the price and fear of academic failure. The fear of making a mistake and the consequently bad evaluation that has the potential to negatively influence a future career path, can lead to learners rather “playing it safe,” not taking risks and not trying to think out of the box. But that can’t be further away from what they need for a career in business. One can argue that taking risks, looking for solutions in new places, thinking out of the box and problem-solving are the essence of what a business mindset should be about.

Gamified content offers an opportunity to take risks, think of creative solutions, try various scenarios. It allows to fail safely and accept mistakes and uncomfortable experiences as a crucial part of a learning process. Gamification can shift the focus from the final evaluation and grades to the actual learning process. Such a shift has the power to transform attitudes towards learning. It returns the freedom to explore and be curious. Additionally, as mistakes can’t be avoided in life, it equips students with a healthier and more resilient mindset that helps them grow in their life instead of restricting them. A mindset that corresponds with the demands on professionals and leaders in the digital age.

Implementing gamification into higher education

Don’t know how to start? In the training program Gamification of Learning: Designing an engaging classroom experience, we cover the nuts and bolts of gamification in higher education, how to gamify the content, what are the downfalls of gamification and how can we avoid them. The date does not work for you but you are still interested? You can choose to be kept informed about the next editions here.

gamification workshop