I think I stumbled onto a few things finally after trying a couple years of this kind of implementation…
1. Gamification is NOT about changing your approach to assessment and documentation of student work… it’s about changing the student’s approach to the content.
Gamification CAN NOT be achieved by changing the names of grades and assignments to XP and quests. You must create an atmosphere of play. If you think that learning and play are unrelated, you have completely missed the boat (and I might suggest you might be in the wrong field)! Play IS learning at it’s most pure, untarnished form.
The goal here is not to get the kids to do what you want. It’s to get them to want what you want them to want. If they do it but hate it, are bored by it, etc… you’ve already lost. As educators- we are called to challenge the mind. Minds aren’t challenged when they’re bored or unengaged. They may give in and do what you want, but capitulation is NOT education.
Don’t be a brain bully. Nobody likes a bully.
2. Gamification is not about making the class more fun or to make it fall into the mechanics of another game system… it’s about making it matter and making it possible.
How does it feel to be in “the flow”?
- Completely involved, focused, concentrating – with this either due to innate curiosity or as the result of training
- Sense of ecstasy – of being outside everyday reality
- Great inner clarity – knowing what needs to be done and how well it is going
- Knowing the activity is doable – that the skills are adequate, and neither anxious or bored
- Sense of serenity – no worries about self, feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of ego – afterwards feeling of transcending ego in ways not thought possible
- Timelessness – thoroughly focused on present, don’t notice time passing
- Intrinsic motivation – whatever produces “flow” becomes its own reward
How does that list look??? Like something you might want from your students? Sometimes it’s not the content you teach OR the students you teach… but the WAY YOU TEACH IT that causes that slack-jawed unfocused look in your students.
It has nothing to do with making it easy or fun… it has to do with making it DIFFICULT BUT POSSIBLE.
The kids do NOT want easy classes. They want to not be bored (too easy or uninteresting) or set up for failure (no way to win, feels unfair or un-winnable).
3.The surest way to completely kill any creative engaging process is carrots and sticks thinking about motivation.
Dan Pink in his book DRIVE (great summary in resources area) talks about the three keys to internal drive:
- Autonomy– that you are involved in your own learning process- not just a monkey pushing buttons.
- Mastery– that the goal is to master the concept, not “pass the test” or “make the grade.”
- Purpose– That the student knows WHY they are going the direction they’re going. Make it matter.
The research is clear… Carrots and sticks WILL KILL engagement and mastery of any complex thought process. If it’s about rewards (grades are rewards, folks!), then it’s doomed to fail unless it’s mindless and menial. You can scare or bribe someone into smashing more rocks or working longer hours… but you can’t bribe or scare them into solving a problem and thinking. It won’t work long term (it does appear to work short term, but it won’t last)
Reading some of the research on the topic is key, IMHO… You need to understand the psychology behind how and why it works.
Suggested Learning List:
- Reality Is Broken
- What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy.
- Good Video Games and Good Learning
- Jane McGonigal: The game that can give you 10 extra years of life
- Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world
- Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation