I’m back in the saddle of my Gamification MOOC! Here are my thoughts on modules 3 & 4 discussing the applications of gamification in education–the motivation for enrolling in this MOOC in the first place.

Why gamify?

Points to Ponder . . .

1. Games don’t necessarily enhance the learning results. However, they can provide the motivation to learn in the first place.

This surprised me. I thought games would guarantee better learning. Apparently not so!

2. The status of the prizes doesn’t necessarily enhance motivation. Students will covet the ‘prize’, whatever it is, simply because it’s difficult to obtain. It’s all about changing the perception of the activity. Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer had it all figured out when he turned his ‘whitewashing job’ into a coveted and marketable activity:

via Games in Education-Gamification MOOC by Dr. Tom Benjamin

This makes complete sense. Mention the word ‘game’ in a primary classroom (probably any classroom!) and eyes light up like a dog’s seeing its owner grab the leash!

3. Although a game isn’t standardized like a test it can be used as assessment.  However, assessing using games requires students to complete enough rounds or attempts. It’s all in the statistical analysis.

Hmmm…Ok, at this point in the MOOC I’m beginning to feel a little inundated by theory and sorely lacking a background in statistical analysis! 

4. Games can’t always make it easy to learn something difficult but maybe they can make us feel better about ourselves as we try! There are a myriad of ways to level the playing field in a game from the inclusion of a set number of rounds (like a 3 period game) or abrupt changes in conditions (like ‘trump’) to different weightings (like a 3 point shot) or an unseen but finite pool (like the ‘crib’ hand).

Chance generators or levelers provide the unpredictability necessary in a game and are easy enough to understand until I try to apply them in a classroom game situation. More contextual examples please!

5.  A game design providing a scenario can help level the playing field. A scenario or other meta-activity (project) can incorporate a number of ‘boring’ or ‘difficult’ objectives that are turned into mini-games or gamelets. Including cross-curricular outcomes can expand the connections for students and make for a richer, more diverse game environment.

Hey! I’ve even used this one before! My grade 3 students were a team journalists discovering Iqualuit last year.

6. Intermittent rewards are the most motivating. It’s the reason gamblers get addicted to the slots!

Ok, how can I incorporate Skinner’s intermittent reward theory into classroom games? Right now we have a ‘golden broom award’ for the cleanest tables at the end of our school day. Is this an example of prize status or intermittent rewards? My son’s music teacher has a vending machine for student practise. Some weeks it’s open; some weeks it’s not. Bingo!

7. Students will employ the ‘Grasshopper Effect’ to balance out any cognitive dissonance they experience. If you ate a grasshopper at the request of a respected peer you could admit you didn’t like it; if you did it for someone you didn’t respect you’d need to find another reason for complying in order to rid yourself of the inner conflict.

So, by offering all the bells and whistles are we denying our students from learning the intrinsic value of education? Should we be gamifying in education or not?

More questions than answers generally means there’s a lot more to learn. On to module 5!

  1. […] these hurdles, I learned a lot! In a previous post, Games in Education, I outlined the basics of the gamification principles that I gleaned from the course. I learned […]

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