I’m excited to dive further into the opportunities gamification offers for engagement and higher-level thinking challenges for students. If I had to sum up my learning from this week, it would simply be that I am surprised at the depth at which this topic is currently growing. The idea of building learning into a game-based focus to increase engagement and motivation isn’t just happening in the classroom – it’s sweeping the corporate world by storm.
What exactly is gamification? The definition for me has become holistic. The simplified definition is that it is designing work (both school and career) to have game-like qualities that build in a positive feedback system. In today’s technology we tend to see it more in online communities and electronic games, but it’s truly been around for centuries. TechnologyAdvice (2014) notes that “gamification may have only recently emerged as a viable trend, but its roots stretch back to the late 1890s.” There’s a constant trend to make learning ‘fun’ – as it should be.
I think it can be argued that even babies can learn with gamification when hands-on learning has a built-in gratification that builds intrinsic motivation. The next levels of gamification become much more complex, which is where we’re headed with this course. Interactive programs that adapt to the user, provide motivation and other incentives like levels, badges, etc. are an incredible resource to teach not only the youth but also the adults of today. “As a planet, we spend 3 billion hours a week playing video and computer games” (Knewton 2014). With a statistic like this, it’s time to “harness” the power of games and create motivational learning for all ages.
According to Kapp (2012), “the rewards that are part of gamification encourage users to stay engaged and interact with each other, building relationships that draw them back.” As a teacher, my preference has always been to put the preparation in beforehand so that students are using project-based learning and “doing the work” themselves. To me, it’s the person doing the work that is the one gaining and learning from it. Gamification seems to add to this framework for me by taking some of the prep work out and creating an interaction component through relationships that non-tech-based projects may or may not provide. I remember when the Internet came about, and while I’m programmed to ‘google’ everything, I also have some hesitation about the types of relationships that are built online rather than face-to-face. This is something I’m still working through and will continue to mentally visit.
Eyal (2014) surmises that “In traditional workplaces, employees receive annual reviews that decide raises and promotions. Most of the time, however, they toil away unnoticed and unrewarded. In the gamified workplace, employees receive constant updates on their performance as they earn higher rankings and badges that get the attention of colleagues and supervisors.” We can take this statistic further by learning from the motivational process and applying more immediate feedback to students through games but also through more traditional means, like quicker overall communication. We live in an instant gratification world now. In some ways, this has created challenges, but in other ways it keeps me aware that in order to learn quickly, students need very fast and positive reinforcement.
I’m often teaching younger grades (pre-K-2nd grade) so my use of technology is geared toward a younger audience. I use gamification-based products daily and they, my students, love them. The most recent I’ve used is abcmouse.com. If you’ve got young ones at home, it’s worth checking out. I think it speaks volumes that gamification has reached such a young generation (yes, they’ve got an ipad & iphone app, too). Another great resource that teaches pre-K-high school is IXL.com. They also use badges and stars to build a sense of completion and success.
When I was reading Meister’s article on the Forbe’s website I really connected with her thoughts about gamification and health and wellness. Trying to balance grad school, young children and two jobs has made me especially aware of my time and what I call “mind” management. I was excited to read about Mindbloom, a “visual representation of your priorities and progress in matters such as health, lifestyle, career, creativity, relationships, finances and spirituality (Meister 2012).” The idea that corporations are finding ways to help their employees balance life and work is exceptionally exciting to me. I’d love to develop or find something similar to this for students! It reminds me a bit of Montessori teaching principals that include a schedule that is student-goal driven and includes ‘life’ learning as well as academics. I feel a huge project coming my way on this topic! And I’m excited to be excited J
Age of Learning, Inc. (2014). ABC Mouse Early Learning Academy. Retrieved from https://www.abcmouse.com/
Eyal, Nir. (2014). The Pros and Cons of a Gamified Work Culture. Retrieved from http://www.fastcompany.com/3035257/the-future-of-work/the-pros-and-cons-of-a-gamified-work-culture
Kapp, K. M. (2012). The Gamification of Learning and Instruction : Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.
Knewton. (2014). Gamification Infographic. Retrieved from http://www.knewton.com/gamification-education/
Meister, Jeanne. (2012). Gamification: Three Ways to Use Gaming for Recruiting, Training, and Health & Wellness. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeannemeister/2012/05/21/gamification-three-ways-to-use-gaming-for-recruiting-training-and-health-amp-wellness/
TechnologyAdvice. (2014). The History of Gamification: From Stamps to Space. Retrieved from http://technologyadvice.com/gamification/blog/history-of-gamification-infographic/