Making Learning Addictive

In an age of smart phones, apps, and short attention spans, how can education and learning compete with how addictive our lifestyles are now? Keep reading to find out one of the best examples of how it is possible to make learning addictive, and how we can apply this to the UK education system.

60-Second Attention Spans

While we have become more technologically advanced, we have become consumed by the technology we made. Social media has led to enhanced globalisation but has made us less social… Ironically. However, another issue is that it has shortened our attention spans, we are so used to getting information in short punchy colourful spurts, that anything over 60 seconds is a drag now. Aside from destroying our patience for content, it has become addictive. Getting information, laughs, and gossip in short, spicy, 60-second increments is addictive, which is why doom-scrolling is such a problem in the developed modernised world.

Adult learners, and children in school alike, suffer from the hook that social media immediacy has “yeeted” into our brains. Social media is much more immediate than academic learning. While academic learning is more thorough, social media is faster even if it does miss things out. So, how can we get the younger generations, and let’s be real, ourselves, addicted to education when social media is just so ‘GOOOOOOD’ 😛?

It turns out that this is not the first time that someone asked this question. A famous but not well-known Guatemalan Businessman has managed to breach the gap between education and social media. While it sounds almost impossible, it isn’t, and it is very widely-known.

Businessman Luis von Ahn saw the gap in society where social media and education were separate and wanted to find a way to make some money while also finding a way to incorporate education into this strange new online world.

And thus… Duolingo was born.

Duolingo: How Education Breached Social Media

Okay, Duolingo may not be the most obvious education app, some may not even view it as one. But, that is the magic of the genius behind it. An educational app should feel like an app, be addictive like an app, rewarding like an app, and keep people focused like one. When you make an educational app feel like an app, it’s more likely to replace doom-scrolling and get people’s attention. You also have its mascot, the Duolingo green bird – whose personality has made memes everywhere. It’s passive-aggressive, overly enthusiastic, if not a little threatening personality is weird and hilarious and keeps you hooked.

The mixed use of ‘streaks’, and the passive-aggressive green bird that make the app adored by so many have made this app feel less like an education. Meanwhile, plenty of people still learn languages via Duolingo making it an effective education tool that gets you hooked.

Can The Education Sector Use Duolingo TacTics

The idea of Duolingo was to allow equal access to education for people around the world by creating an app that would enable people to learn. Languages was the most ideal option for the concept of the app, as there was a massive audience for it. The style by which the app was designed for the competition with mobile phones. Any mobile app, and in fact, daily activity can be competing against mobile phones. Mobile phones have been made with some of the most addictive technology ever seen, it could even be percieved as a drug in this sense. So education is now competing against addictive technologies. Duolingo fought this by making itself addictive, streaks that give you that dopamine rush, interaction with other users, competitions, etc.

How Do We Start Making Learning Addictive?

So, keeping in mind what Duolingo creator Luis von Ahn managed to do, could this be translated into everyday education? Is it possible to make education in schools addictive enough to compete with the mobile phone culture of the modern world?

Educators trying to intergrate mobile phones and apps into the classroom to keep children engrossed, but still fighting the short attention span and distraction it brings. Can the techniques and tactics be carried over?

It is possible, but classrooms just need to get inventive, and take a page out of Luis’ book. Can we, in education, use the same techniques of streaks, competitiveness, and even quirky mascots to keep childrens attention on learning and away from mobile phones? Do we start delivering classes in a Tik Tok style short form with dances, music, and out-of-the-box thinking? Or, does it make more sense to try and intergrate the use of social media into the curriculum? Should children be given challenges to generate twitter posts as if they were Fool from King Lear for a week to stay invested in their English GCSE curriculum.

Gamification Of Education In The Age Of Social Media

The real question we are asking here is whether or not curriculum-wide gamification of our schools is the way forward in the education sector as the technology we live with changes. Soon enough it is possible that schools may become more social media integrated. With classes being more involved in the online world. When COVID-19 struck, many thought it was the downfall of education. Many children suffered due to the lack of socialisation and classes being primarily conducted online. But, did COVID-19 teach us something about the flexibility of education?

With new age media becoming more prominent it is possible that education could benefit from apps like Duolingo being intergrated. Who’s to say that homework cannot be conducted through interactive apps that are more consistent and show progress? It is possible that apps could even help teachers monitor the progress of students and find out where they are struggling the most.

The use of apps, technology, and integrated systems to enable students to learn in an interactive, constant way could be a key in the goal to make education more geared to mastery and less focused on testing.

Progress Can Be Intimidating

We are now at a stage where AI is becoming more prominent in our lives and we don’t know if it will be end up being positive and useful like the invention of the PC and laptop. Or if it will become more of an unneccesary commodity- like the touch-screen smart toaster.

Yes, that is a thing!

We don’t know where it will go yet. However, if AI, automation, and social media integration with gameification becomes as useful as PC’s and laptops, education could benefit. Fear of the unknown is valid, but it is totally possible that new styles of teaching could be developed that would give everyone an equal opportunity in mastering their education without any trouble or limitations. Techniques could be developed to give children in ALN classes a different way to approach lessons. This could make them flourish more in their education, it could break down barriers.

We are yet to see. If duolingo can get millions of people worldwide learning a language, surely we can utilise these techniques to do even better!

We will just have to wait and see.