Implications of Gamification and Virtual Reality in Higher Education

Implications of Gamification and Virtual Reality in Higher Education

Ricardo Godinho Bilro, Sandra Maria Correia Loureiro, Fernando José de Aires Angelino
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2874-7.ch007
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Gamification and virtual reality are becoming more common in higher education, leading to more research toward this topic and its applications. Following this new trend, this chapter identifies and proposes practical applications and future directions for gamification and virtual reality in higher education environments. Authors contribute with precise inputs how to create student engagement and motivation towards learning and academic activities. Future research avenues in these domains are given. Authors draw conclusions about future changes in the educational experiences through gamification and virtual reality.
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The use of game design elements in non-game contexts (Deterding et al., 2011) is a growing trend in the literature in different settings, from finance to marketing or education (e.g., Azmi et al., 2017; Dicheva et al., 2015). Specifically, higher education is among one of the non-game contexts where the implementation and use of gamification techniques are evolving (e.g., Faghihi et al., 2014).

Virtual reality (VR) and gamification - the application of game-based techniques in non-game environments -, have been the subject of a growing interest from scholars and practitioners regarding its application in several areas, namely in Higher Education. A growing number of researches concerning virtual reality and gamification and its applications to this area have been published since 2012. Following this pathway, this research aims to identify and propose practical applications and future directions either for gamification and virtual reality in higher education environments. Through this research, authors also pretend to contribute with precise inputs on how to create student’s engagement and motivation towards their learning and academic activities. Moreover, this research also pretends to put in evidence that an enormous path is still to be uncovered in these domains. Specifically, understanding which way virtual reality and gamification may act as contributors to creating stimuli that enhance students’ experiences from the learning environments and lead to influence decision-making to actual and prospective students’ intentions.

The remainder of the chapter is structured as follows: The next section is devoted to the theoretical background, addressing the literature on gamification and learning games. Then this chapter focus on gamification and virtual reality concepts, detailing what does it mean. The following section is devoted to examples of the use of gamification with virtual reality. Finally, future research directions and conclusion are presented.



Gamification is a growing trend in research (Caponetto, Earp, and Ott, 2014; Erenli, 2013; Kasurinen and Knutas, 2017) as well as in educational settings (Azmi, Ahmad, Iahad, and Yusof, 2017; Dicheva, Dichev, Agre, and Angelova, 2015). Despite lacking a standard definition of gamification in literature, in this chapter, the authors adopted the definition of Deterding, Dixon, Khaled, and Nacke (2011) that Gamification is “the use of game design elements in non-game contexts”.

Higher education is among one of those “non-game contexts” where the adoption of gamification techniques are evolving in an ascending trend through distinct educational settings (e.g., Faghihi et al., 2014; Galbis-Córdova, Martí-Parreño, and Currás-Pérez, 2017).

According to Smith et al. (2013), the increase in course sizes and active learning pedagogies suggests that in order to maintain excellent communication and feedback to students, a set of new tools (online and offline) will need to be developed or improved. Some authors, such as Kapp and Coné (2012), presents different types of definitions regarding learning through games, such as: (i) gamified learning, which is the use of gaming elements integrated into training programs, aligned with specific goals to promote changes in behavior; (ii) game-based learning, which is the use of games to teach new knowledge and skills within a self-contained space or environment; (iii) simulation learning, which is a realistic, controlled-risk environment, to allow the practice of specific behaviors and experiences.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Gamification: The process of integrating game mechanics into something that already exists – a website, an enterprise application, an online community.

Learning: The process of acquiring new knowledge, behaviors, skills, or values.

Education: The process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values.

Virtual Reality: Is a simulated experience that can be similar to or completely different from the real world. We may also call as an immersive experience.

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