Jan 02 2019

How to Gamify Professional Development

Just like their students, teachers can benefit from gamified learning opportunities.

Earlier this year, a Gallup poll surveyed teachers who left the profession. Nearly a third (29 percent) left due to relocation or health issues. Looking at the 71 percent who were left, 16 percent of those teachers were terminated, and 60 percent said they left because of issues with career advancement or development. 

Gallup researchers surmised that although many districts focus on professional development, “these opportunities might not be individualized to teachers’ specific growth and development needs.” Administrators may be baffled by those results, but they shouldn’t be. 

While traditional professional development is important — in-person and group education — today’s teachers need access to fast approaching and more relevant opportunities that cater to their personal goals. 

Several technology-based tools can take PD to the next level, boosting problem solving and communication between staffers and inspiring teachers to use those educational tools to create their own student-facing lessons. Digital breakouts in conjunction with badging are a few of the best — and easiest — to implement. They may even gamify planning and development in rewarding ways.

MORE FROM EDTECH: Check out how K–12 teachers can gamify their classroom.

Introduce Gaming in the Classroom Through Digital Breakouts

Digital breakouts, which use Google Forms among other tools, represent a type of gamification. Much like the popular physical escape rooms, digital breakouts ask participants to solve puzzles and unlock questions within specified periods of time. 

The experiences can be simple, online-only breakouts that rely on video or web content for the educational portions — how the participants find the answers to the puzzles — or elaborate breakouts with offline clues and props. Dozens of YouTube videos and blog posts provide step-by-step instructions for setting up professional development digital breakouts using Google Forms. 

Users can also download digital breakout templates created on Google Sites, written by digital learning coaches and technology staffers, or purchase one of more than 1,600 breakout activities on TeachersPayTeachers.com

Because these experiences make learning entertaining and memorable, educators may be more likely to complete professional development exercises. More important: the lessons they learn will stick, especially when users have something to track their progress with. 

That is where rewards come in, and badges work well in that regard. For instance, once participants finish a digital breakout session, they can earn a badge. These can be created in Google Draw and stored in a Google Doc, Google Sheet, or another online page for bragging rights. 

How K–12 School Leaders Can Help Incorporate Gamification

Going into 2019, administrators should consider incorporating digital breakouts to provide instruction about educational tech. A recent study on the use of technology in the classroom found teachers lack professional development and training around the digital curriculum. 

In fact, only 51 percent of teachers say they receive formal professional development related to technology, and 24 percent of teachers say they are very concerned about a “lack of PD to help effectively integrate technology into instruction.” 

In practice, it’s clear the use of digital breakouts and badging could be equalizing. Neither requires great investments of time or capital, and they can be accessed anywhere — at home, in the classroom, or even on a mobile device. In today’s busy world, where teachers can hardly find time to eat, much less learn, anywhere, anytime access to development is invaluable.

This article is part of the "Connect IT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology" series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #ConnectIT hashtag.


[title]Connect IT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology


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