Trends and Roles Blog #1

“Games are the most elevated form of investigation.” Albert Einstein

“Gamification is the use of game design techniques and mechanisms to solve problems and engage audiences.”

My learning partner was Erin Clupp, who is a Documentation Librarian here at CNA-Q. We met back in May and after discussing some of the recent trends in education, decided on the broad topic of gamification and gaming-based education. We are both very excited by this topic.

After a general discussion of the common aspects and elements of gamification, Erin and I started discussing how games are already used all around us in our everyday lives. We collect points (Air Miles for travel are almost like Experience Points in a game). We collect stamps at coffee shops until we receive a free one (like a 1-Up in a game or a boost). Degrees and certifications are like gamer badges. We use mobile apps on a daily basis to turn our life into a game a monitor progress. For example, we use Fitbit for health and exercise, Duolingo for learning a new language, Ribbon Hero for learning Microsoft Office, Epic Win for time management, Hopscotch for learning computer coding, etc. Other discussions surrounding gamification – Harry Potter is very much about a game of Quidish and also how Angry Birds and Candy Crush has been so successful.

Gaming is no longer a simple pastime or hobby of geeks and nerds, “it’s a twenty-first-century way of thinking and leading…a twenty-first-century way of working together to accomplish real change” (McGonigal, as cited in Bourgault, 2012).   In one of the articles that I discussed, Kristen Bourgault talks about the criticism that gaming is cheapening education. She cites game designer Margaret Robertson who argues that what people are criticising isn’t gaming, which can be a great tool for enriching learning, they are actually criticizing what she refers to as ‘pointsification’. Robertson says, “Points and badges have no closer a relationship to games than they do to websites and fitness apps and loyalty cards” (as cited in Bourgault, 2012). By simply adding badges and points to learning, does not make it a game nor do badges indicate that the students have obtained a true understanding of the subject.   Instead, Bourgault says planning games for teaching purposes must be well thought out like you would any other learning activity. Start by creating a compelling narrative for students. Then set up mentoring and collaborating opportunities as you would see in many online, virtual games, then be sure to include frequent feedback and assessment. Badges and points can be used to track progress but “meaningful instructor feedback is what will truly propel the learner forward” (Bourgault, 2012).   Based on our readings and discussion, both Erin and I agreed that gamification can be an effective instructional tool if used in the right situation in the right way. By tapping into our innate desire for gaming and learning in a fun, innovative way, we can hope to engage our students in experiential learning that they will enjoy and remember.   Resources   Bourgault, Kristen. (2012). Gamification in education: epic win, or epic fail? Digital Pedagog. Retrieved from:   Lee, J. J. & Hammer, J. (2011). Gamification in Education: What, How, Why Bother?  Academic Exchange Quarterly, 15(2).

(Very interesting article on Gamification that discusses the pros and cons of gamification and looks towards where it may be in the future.

Gamification in Education: What, How, Why Bother?

Joey J. Lee, Teachers College Columbia University, NY Jessica Hammer, Teachers College Columbia University, NY Lee, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Technology and Education. Hammer is a Mellon Interdisciplinary Graduate Research Fellow at the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy.)


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