The world is my classroom and my playground

| August 12, 2014

We are learning both inside and outside of the classroom. Theresa Lim from Play2Lead explains how gamification can make learning more engaging and rewarding.

The idea of teaching beyond the physical classrooms is not a new one. I remember going on excursions to the zoo and the museums. What’s changed over time is how we learn both inside and outside of the classroom.

Although the iPhone is priced around $600, companies like Alcatel are working at creating cheaper smartphones for $60, and that means smartphone will become even more ubiquitous around the world. Together with what is called “the Internet of Things”, where everyday devices such as bus stops, fridges etc. become internet-enabled, and consumers using wearables like the Nike Fuelband, means how people interact with the world around them can be better understood.

This allows for a tremendous opportunity for learning to be even more on-demand, as well as contextual relevant. Say a student is studying healthy eating, she can get information or challenge herself on pop quizzes about the nutritional benefits, how the food/meal was prepared, the story behind the farmer/artisan etc. when she is at his fridge, at her supermarket, at her favourite restaurant etc, not just at the institution she is taking her class in or in front of her laptop when he is taking an online course.

What I’m most excited about learning is the opportunity for the learner to decide what and when he wants to learn, to be rewarded for learning, and most of all have fun whilst learning. As children, we all grew up playing games, and for the last few generations, playing digital games is increasingly prevalent for children and adults alike. The expectation of interactivity and connecting with their peers whilst learning is only increasing. Game-based learning promotes better memory recall, which means contextual application of what was learnt should be more effective.

Being rewarded for learning is also not a new concept. You might remember getting a sticker when you did well at school. You knew who the kids were that were getting better results than you. Gamification is the process of using game thinking and game mechanics to solve problems and engage users in non-game contexts. Applied to learning it allows students to get the rush of the challenge matched with the thrill of achievement. This process results in a heady kick of dopamine.

The trick is to make sure there is the right level of challenge without the student feeling overwhelmed, matched to the right increments of achievement and skills, otherwise the student might get bored and disengage. When this balance of challenge and achievement is correct, the student is in “the flow” (a concept created by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, the former Head of Psychology at the University of Chicago) and has the intrinsic motivation to continue learning, forgetting physical factors like hunger and sleep, the passage of time and even their ego.

My team at Play2Lead built a gamified and social poll and quiz web solution because I was tired of going to events and attending webinars where the audience was mostly talked at, even though they might be keen to learn. So what you’ll see at a conference like Innovations in Learning is:


  1. A fun warm-up quiz at the beginning of the day by simply entering a URL on your smartphone. The faster you answer the higher your score!
  2. Some speakers have live polls that they will ask the audience to participate in during the sessions. You can answer anonymously if you choose for specific questions.
  3. Audience members get points for answering the questions. The person on top of the overall leaderboard at the end of the conference gets a fabulous bottle of wine.
  4. Audience members can see who else has voted a particular question just like them.
  5. Audience members can connect with each other more easily via social media as they can look up their fellow attendees’ Linkedin or Twitter profile.


Learning can happen anywhere anytime. Let’s make it more fun, engaging and rewarding!

Global Mindset presented Theresa’s ideas along with digital thinking, leadership thinking, global thinking, lateral thinking and an education technology Start Up pitch at the conference ‘Innovations in Learning’ on 13 August in Sydney. Play2Lead’s gamified poll and quiz platform were used by some of the speakers to increase audience engagement.

Theresa Lim

Theresa Lim is CEO and Founder of Play2Lead. Theresa is an entrepreneur with a passion for gamification, mobile technology and education. Prior to this second startup, Theresa spent the last 20 years working at blue-chip corporations such as ThoughtWorks, Andersen and Vodafone leading teams in Sales and Marketing, Finance as well as management consulting engagements. Theresa launched the world’s first personalised storybook app in 2010 in the Apple Store, and then in March 2014, launched PointedQ – a web-based, gamified social poll and quiz platform to help brands increase their engagement with customers and employees at events and online.