Day 84 (of 187) gamification ….. some worries …. first steps … some games!
I love the idea of gamifying the classroom and school: the focus on levelling up rather than “passing” helps create a mindset that there is more learning that can be done (grade 4 human body units may inspire some to look at being a nurse or doctor, but it’s not enough to become a surgeon) or that you may have more success looking in another castle (Mario Bros reference for any non-gamers) as not every subject/topic/unit is needed to be known by every learner (I know – scandalous!). It also brings in other “game” mindsets :-: the extra life. the easter eggs. the reset button. the high score – and if you think this doesn’t matter then you should not be using letter grades either – the ultimate score keeper in the “game of school” which is rarely gamified.
I love using games like Fowl Words to tackle spelling. Likewise with Boggle and Scrabble (board or virtual). There is something more liberating to take risks on a virtual interface than actually writing something on paper. Heck – editing with a keyboard rather than starting over when the good copy got an error on the bottom couple of lines (way too frequent of a true story in my own elementary days which led to “concise writing”). And playing games like lemonade stand helped me understand math. As a teacher I used Deal or No Deal to discuss probability. Playing Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? helped my understanding of world geography incredibly! And I learned about disentery…..
I have a page on my blog site dedicated to “virtual assignments” many recently focused on ADST (Applied design skills and technology) and engineering type games. But also for reading writing and numeracy. Even some “old arcade” games (re-inspired by the book and movie Ready Player One)
But sometimes I see articles that make me worry that the gamification of learning is encountering some (in my opinion) mis-interpretations. Similar to my worry that “programs” like Accelerated Reader are not e-reading but focused on memorizing key words to earn points rather than winning the “real reading game” which is falling in love with literature. Gamers know games, and a fake/fraud can be figured out quickly!
F’r instance: https://apnews.com/e5f748251c2245da8ff84acab19edf36
I worry whenever we use some use, what I agree is a very powerful tool, to reinforce old methodologies that did not (and do not) work for many learners – and while there are advocates for “what used to work” (provincial exams, memory based quizzes and tests, bland worksheets rewarding good readers but not always good thinkers and advocating speed as smart through mad minutes, spelling tests etc) only half of my grade 8 cohort walked across the stage as grade 12s and we need to do different(iated) to do better.
I like the problem solving that “good games” can provide. I like the collaboration that occurs. I am currently exploring how a Nintendo Switch can help with friendship skills and communication strategies that don’t involve pushes punches and expletives. i am also encouraging (and exploring) watching gamers game – it’s a great way to learn “how to” by seeing how others play or just following a walk-through. I know some shake their heads when they see the young people watching gamers game and coders Code….. and then watch athletes play sports and actors read lines from scripts. Entertainment is entertaining. And some of the dialogue and watching scan be very entertaining – ever since Leeeroy….Jenkins….
So I’m curious about Classcraft and will check it out. I’m still intrigued by some virtual dissections and other online activities that allow students to do things that they can’t do as easily in the “real world” (my dissection experience was a rodent whose insides had disintegrated so we had to copy notes from another group…..) because games like Boggle, Scrabble, Battleship etc that have learning skills attached to them can be done in groups or alone…..but I prefer when the gaming includes (authentic and live) social interactions.
I hope gamification remains different than an edu-fad, but rather a legitimate strategy that helps students connect with learning…..and that learning different(iated)ly can make a difference in helping learners find learning to be both relevant and meaningful!
Ready player one?
Or is it multiplayer time?