Gamification in many parts of education is a sham. Listening to the researchers and experts in this area has convinced me of that. If you’re interested in making your classroom more intriguing and powerful, read on. We can do better.
Who Is Shaping The Gamifying Education Conversation?
- In this week’s conversation with Australian Gamer and researcher Lauren Ferro we all went on a bit of a rant about the ridiculous state of badges in education.
- Teacher Alice Keeler uses games all the time (and doesn’t give grades).
- Sixth grade teacher Michael Matera reinvented his whole sixth grade classroom as a Games Based classroom and shares how he did it.
- A Higher Ed Panel had a powerful conversation for why we need games in highered. (Jackie Gerstein, Beth Ritter-Guth, Alice Keeler, Lauren Ferro and Lee Graham)
- Colin Osterhout shares how to do Minecraft for beginners if you want to start.
- Pete Rorabaugh inventor of Twitters vs. Zombies talks about how these principles can be applied to your HigherEd or High School Class.
- Two kids talk with Drakkart from Germany to help parents teachers understand why Minecraft is so cool to kids.
- Raymond Yan from DigiPen University talks about how to teach kids to program.
- Dave Burgess challenges us to bring passion back into our teaching.
- Kyle Gomboy shares the potential of Unity 3D for creating virtual worlds that can be accessed from any device.
- The organizers of Gamifi-ed talk about what on earth this thing is.
All of these are YouTube videos that have been recorded over the past week and a half as part of the Open Online Community (called an OOC) focusing on games in education.
This material is being created as Open Education Resources (OERs) which means you have permission to use, remix, and reshare in any way for educational purposes. What I love most about these recordings is that real teachers, researchers, and practioners are in each session discussing gaming.
I have 3 take aways from the learning so far:
#1: The Way We’re Doing Many Badges In Education Is A Joke
Are we giving badges for taking up space? I was in sessions in an online conference where attendees were more upset about not having received a badge for the previous session than in listening to the amazing presenter who was sharing.
To me, badges imply having DONE SOMETHING. Give them a badge when they reflect or add to the conversation, for goodness sakes.
Honestly, I could log into a session and go outside and play with Wag the dog and then get a badge for having attended. Doesn’t this run contrary to what we’re trying to do?
But as we continue through one of the most powerful learning experiences I’ve ever joined with the Gamifi-ed OOC one thing is clear:
We can’t slap points and badges on it and claim we’ve gamified it. There are many more levels to gamification than that.
There are two different pieces of gamification that I think are the most important to get your hands around.
#2: Understand Game Mechanics So You Can Gamify Your Classroom
The first is Game Mechanics. There are 24 of them and they are all important. Take time to go through the Game Mechanics | Gamification.org page and start understanding the things that can make a game. (Hat tip to Raymond Yan for stressing this point in his session.)
We had an incredible conversation about gaming in school as my students told me that really the “Free Lunch” is cheating in school and adds an element of gaming to school for some kids. (I’m still wrapping my head around that comment.)
#3: Understand Bartle’s Taxonomy of Player Types and Design so You can Reach All of Them
Lauren Ferro brought up Bartle’s Taxonomy of player types. There are four of them: Achiever, Socializer, Explorer, and Killer. (There are Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology you can take to see which you are.)
In Lauren’s session we had a bit of a conversation about the term “Killer” player type in that it doesn’t really mean someone who kills (a horribly negative connotation for sure) but rather, a person who thrives on combat and building or destroying in the game. They love to pit their skills against others.
So, yesterday as we were talking about this in class, a student came out off the chart on the killer player type and nonexistent on achievement. For this student grades are simply not important and as we discussed the meaning of all of this in just a cursory way (because Bartles is not a diagnostic tool and I’m just learning) it gave me some interesting insights into what makes him tick that I never knew. In fact, it may have been a breakthrough moment.
We Need To Get Better At Gamification
Gamification and gaming is not a joke. There is some incredible potential here. But gimmicks, adding a count down, and some badges is so missing the point here.
Education and the games we play here should mean something. It should represent REAL achievement and accomplishment. We should level up in legitimate ways that represent real achievement and meaning. We should learn how to use gaming elements to make education and learning more sticky and exciting.
Gamifi-ed has become one of the most transformational experiences in my own learning journey as we wrestle with learning about something that needs more attention. Hope you’ll join us. Today we have a panel on gamification in early childhood and the primary years.