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Get Your Learning Game On: Gamification of Education

I ran across this great infographic regarding the potential for gamification to have a truly meaningful impact on education. Some key stats that stuck out for me:

  • 1.2 million fail to graduate high school each year
  • 3B hours are spent on playing video and computer games

Gamification of Education

Of course gamification isn’t the end all, be all solution for upping the students investment in their education. I read a great post about 3 Reasons NOT to Gamify Education and the quote that stuck out for me was:

“I don’t think just because you offer an award, like a badge, it will motivate students intrinsically or help them at all. But, tying it into your classroom to make the overall experience fun, meaningful and a challenge can help.”

I think this is a key point that anyone considering gamification of their product/training/event/etc. should consider. Basically slapping on a gamified approach won’t make it successful. Serious thought should be applied to what it is you are most wanting your demographic to think/know/feel/do and when appropriate a gamification tactic can be deployed to motivate your demographic accordingly.

Jesse Schell breaks down how gamification and games can make a significant impact on education. About 14 mins in he talks about one of my favorite example Quest to Learn, which I have blogged about previously, and another example I recently became aware of called Khan Academy.

So what are some examples of good vs. bad gamification for education? Surprisingly I found my good and bad examples, of course this is in my opinion only, from the same company. Read More »

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Disrupting the Learning Dynamic with Technology

Do youth engage in valuable learning experiences via technology? The answer is yes but what they are learning usually pertains to being adept with social engagements. This doesn’t align to the learning their parents and educators care most about, i.e. academic learning. Not to say learning social skills isn’t important to parents and educators but paramount is academics.

So how can technology disrupt the academic learning dynamic as effectively as it has disrupted the process for becoming more adept with social engagements? A new PBS documentary, Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century, explores this subject in depth. View an excerpt from the documentary below.

A recent Cisco press release details how world educators believe technology can be leveraged to transform learning. A key highlight for me was:

Video and collaboration technologies are rapidly allowing educators to be more effective and productive in teaching, anytime, anywhere. This can increase productivity by reducing travel between schools or even countries, decreasing the cost of travel downtime. “Presence” technology is becoming an emerging factor in teacher training and staff development areas; at the same time, increasing the availability of collaboration tools is fostering new “project-based” learning environments.

For anyone not on board with introducing technology to youth at early ages and within their learning environment, school, consider this…if they don’t learn early how are they going to fair against those who do?

“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” John Dewey, American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer

Are we providing a disservice when we don’t integrate technology with the learning process?

“Literacy has always been defined by the technology. Before the printing press your ability to orally recite something meant to be literate. So as technology has made things cheaper we are now saying well hmm ‘is someone literate if they cannot critique media, take media in, if they are only taking in traditional text’? That’s a question to answer today but what would that mean in 2020? I would venture to say that they won’t necessarily be considered as being literate.” Nichole Pinkard, Digital Youth Network Program Founder, Visiting Associate Professor in the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University

Interest driven learning is a proven concept, so how do we use technology to enable youth to find their interest?

“Every kid has an interest. Sometimes he doesn’t know what it is, sometimes he can’t articulate it but every kid has an interest. That is a fundamental belief. If you can’t buy into that then you can’t buy into the work we do.” Diana Rhoten, Co-Founder and Managing Director at Startl

In the PBS documentary Quest to Learn (which I mentioned in a previous blog post on gamification techniques) is heralded by the students as the ‘school of the future’. They applaud the use of technology and games to help them understand system based thinking and the process of trial and error. Katie Salen, Director, Quest to Learn  expounds on why it is was time for Quest to Learn now!

I am awed by what these folks are looking to accomplish. It makes me wish I was 10 again as I believe learning integrated with gamification techniques, digital media tools and other technologies would have made me actually EXCITED to go to school.

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Gamification: The Art of Turning Work Into Play

Gamification is a hot topic as of late and has seen marketing, education, and non-profit groups adopting the use of gamification concepts at a rapid rate. While some will say gamification is not true gaming and others see it as an unnecessary distraction, I think both groups may be missing the point. Before I dive into why I believe this let’s recap what gamification actually means and some real world exampled.

So what does gamification mean? According to Wikipedia it is defined as follows:

Gamification is the use of game play mechanics for non-game applications (also known as “funware“), particularly consumer-oriented web and mobile sites, in order to encourage people to adopt the applications. It also strives to encourage users to engage in desired behaviors in connection with the applications. Gamification works by making technology more engaging, and by encouraging desired behaviors, taking advantage of humans’ psychological predisposition to engage in gaming. The technique can encourage people to perform chores that they ordinarily consider boring, such as completing surveys, shopping, or reading web sites.

Tim Chang of Norwest Venture Partners is credited with coining the term gamification and he recently participated in the first ever Gamification Summit (which sold out btw) that just took place 20-21 January in San Francisco. The chair of the summit was Gabe Zichermann, a self-described “gamification thought leader.” According to Gabe the biggest mistake someone looking at gamification can make is assuming it is all about prizes and rewards. In his opinion it should be about status, access, power, and then stuff. He says, “The heart of your game should be reach a higher-class tier and as a result getting more exclusivity in options, services and places available to your top players. Of course, people do like to get stuff, but status is a much better motivator over the long term.”

Some real world examples of gamification include: Read More »

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