New times call for new methods: How Gamification can be used in Higher Education to enhance employability

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New times call for new methods: online course admission, blended learning and students using their smart phones in class are nowadays no longer considered ground-breaking new concepts, but Gamification in higher education still does sound a little revolutionary. Why? Maybe the word ‘game’ leads some of us to think we are talking fun and child’s play. But in fact, Gamification is just a relatively new word for a proven concept: It is about the use of game elements in a non-game environment, in which you engage people’s competitive drive and apply it to learning. In this blog post, Nannette Ripmeester will share her insights into how Gamification can be used in higher education to make your students more employable.

The use of Gamification has a natural advantage to it, which was mentioned already: the fun aspect. And we all know that enjoying what you do makes you more engaged in your task. That’s exactly what gamification does: it turns static material into an enjoyable interactive experience. Research from Jane McGonigal shows Gamification can make learners more involved and more motivated. And being more engaged is something education is lacking. Take the results of a Gallup report, which show that engagement drops  from 76% in elementary school to 61% middle school and down to 44% in high school. And it certainly does not get any better in higher education.

Gamification teaches us that we have to capture and hold the players’ attention in order to be relevant. The game industry in Silicon Valley is a leading example here: “If we build a game in which someone is demotivated or disengaged for 45 seconds, we know we need to improve.” Now picture this in a lecture hall and add to it that you have to explain to your students what the skills are that get them hired on the global labor market. The words “getting hired” will make them interested, but what’s next? How will you provide all your students with exactly that bit of careers advice that makes them tick?

Or think about explaining to students the importance of intercultural skills – yawn! – but when you add to it that employers value people with international skills, you will get their attention back. Once again, how do you ensure your information reaches your students and is actually internalized by them? – exactly, Gamification! Because apart from ‘speaking’ the language of modern students by using modern technologies and techniques, the advantage of Gamification is that it’s digital and offers endless opportunities to interact with large groups of users, regardless of time or location.

But there is more to Gamification. It is non-judgmental and your progress in a game provides you with more instant rewards than most lectures do. Gamification can help people constantly improve: you are not going for that one grade, but you are challenged to continuously try to become better. Gamification offers the thrill of a challenge, a possibility to immediately test the newly gained knowledge and to see your results.

In case you are keen to find out how Gamification can be used in an educational context with a particular focus on study abroad and careers advice, we invite you to join the NAFSA TechMIG webinar.

Your take-aways will include insights into:

  • What is gamification?
  • Why is it such an effective means for engaging with today’s generation of students?
  • How can we use it to enhance student employability and the careers/employment services we provide students?

Sources for those keen to explore gamification in higher education:



Nannette Ripmeester is director of Expertise in Labour Mobility ( She holds extensive knowledge on what makes graduates internationally employable by working with corporate clients and higher education institutions across the globe. With her double-sided knowledge on what makes people mobile, Nannette advises how to further increase the connection between recent graduates and their future job opportunities, in the form of workshops, lectures, publications and educational gaming. She is part of the team that developed, which closes the gap between education and the world of work using gamification.


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