Part VI – Taking it to the Next Level
This is the sixth and final part of a series of posts on the role of gamification in modern education by Andrew Proto. If you missed the previous articles, catch up with “Part I: the Unique Obstacles Teachers Face“, “Part II:Technology’s Role in a Gamified Classroom“, “Part III: The Importance of Motivation“, “Part IV: Looking at Busy Work“ , and “Part V: Gamification in Action“.
A graduate school professor of mine, Dr. Leonard Golubchick, said something that has really stuck with me, “As teachers, our goal is to help our students become thinkers, doers, and risk-takers.” The more I thought about what he had said the deeper this statement seemed. In a traditional classroom only “thinking” is encouraged, “doing and risk-taking” are rarely thought of as academic pursuits. But how can we truly be thinkers unless we’re also willing to act on what we’ve learned? As educators we need to do more than fill our students heads with facts, we need to give them the courage to act on their knowledge.
Active learning is why I believe that gamifying education is important. Through gamification we can create a mindset that encourages students to try new things, to not be afraid of failing, and to act on what they’ve learned. Is gamification the solution to all of the woes that currently plague our schools? Assuredly not. However, I believe that gamification can be the solution to some of the problems our school face today.
I believe that this is especially true when it comes to student engagement. Games are designed to be engaging, by adapting game mechanics to the classroom we may be able to deliver lessons that don’t feel like work. And once we equip the class with a bit of narrative structure we’ll be able to give our students a reason to learn besides “You’ll need to know this one day.”
However, for us to learn if gamification can be beneficial to the school environment, we’re going to need teachers who are willing to learn new educational principles, and to do the work needed to implement them. Not all of these experiments will show results, but we can’t let that make us afraid of trying again. In short, we need teachers who can be thinkers, doers, and risk-takers.
Over this past year, while doing research for this series, I’ve read many good books on the gamification of education and seen many excellent videos on the subject. The following is a list of just some of my sources that I regularly recommend to anyone wishing to delve deeper into how education and gamification intersect:
- The web series Extra Credits is an excellent show that tackles many social issues surrounding video games. Their episode on the Gamification of Education was one of my first encounters with the subject. I highly recommend it.
- Jane Mcgonigal’s TED Talk “Gaming Can Make the World Better” and her book “Reality is Broken” really sums up why games matter. She shows us the hopeful side of gamification and the power games have over us.
- Jesse Schell, on the other hand, shows us the disturbing side of gamification in his talk about the Gamepocalypse (a longer form of it can be seen here.) He raises many good points that we need to pay attention to, especially when we’re dealing with out students.
- Gabe Zichermann’s TED talk “How Games Make Kids Smarter” is a very informative talk that I used to introduce the concept of Gamification to my classmates, and his book “Gamification by Design” is an excellent primer on basic strategies for gamification.
- “The Multiplayer Classroom” by Lee Sheldon is a first hand account of a college professor who actually started handing out experience points to his students instead of grades. It has definitely influenced the way I plan to eventually design my own class.
- The article “Engage me or Enrage Me” by Marc Prensky should be given to all teachers planning on teaching the current generation. His book “Teaching Digital Natives” is also a must read.
- Though it isn’t directly about gamification, the book “Flow: the psychology of optimal experience” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi provides much of the groundwork that has been built upon by others on this list. It asks the question ‘What makes us truly happy?’ and then sets about finding an answer.
- Last but certainly not least, I heartedly recommend the journal article “Gamification in Education: What, How, Why Bother?” by Joey Lee and Jessica Hammer out of Columbia University’s Teacher’s College. It addresses many of the misunderstandings surrounding gamification, and succinctly lays out a case for it’s implementation.
I hope you find these works as interesting and valuable as I have, and if you have any other suggestions please leave them in the comments below or you can reach me on Twitter @MisterProto .
Andrew R. Proto taught middle school science for three years before going to work at Apple as a technology instructor. After teaching there for five years, he realized how much he missed his classroom. He recently completed his Masters of Science in Early Childhood Education at Metropolitan College of New York. Follow him on Twitter @MisterProto
The Gamified Classroom by Andrew R. Proto is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License