I have been interested in Game Based Learning for a while but I don’t think I ever really had a firm grasp on it. I was very excited to to see this as an option for my COETAIL blog post this week.
My son like most other kids his age is a big Minecraft fan. Minecraft mystifies me at times. I am not sure that I totally “get it”. I have tried the pocket version on my iPad and I have a hard time playing for any length of time. It wasn’t until I played on our xbox that I really started to understand the broad appeal. For me what makes it so amazing is how players collaborate. In my case my son walked me through a few basic building techniques and then he set me to work on my part of the fortress we were building. Soon enough I saw progress being made and it was addictive to be working together to build this cool structure (especially when he showed me how to make our defensive weapons!). He is always working on amazing and creative collaborations with his friends and they work together to achieve goals. He also likes to play learning games like Prodigy and gets a little obsessive about trying to get to the next level.
The thought that a game based classroom is just a class full of kids playing video games is missing the point. I think this is the most common misconception about Gamification. This is really game based learning. To me the central theme or feature of it is increased motivation and engagement. In the article How Games Can Influence Learning games are described as “an interactive, ‘lean-forward’ medium”. The experience is clarified to be game like instead of actually being a game. Learning experiences take students from one level to the next once the first level has been achieved. For example, a student may achieve mastery of single digit addition and move on to the next level – two digit. Just like in a video game the experience starts out simple and easy and then get gradually more and more challenging. The player moves through the levels of the game and is “credited” with being a level 6 player. In my oversimplified example of addition, students may graduate from level one (single digit addition) to level two (double digit). Along the way they may be awarded the level one badge or may earn points for themselves or their team. Players/students are always trying to lean forward and make their way to the next level of the game.
I have had teachers that were interested in implementing a Gamified Classroom. I feel much more confident to help guide them through the process now. Student motivation is often not on the forefront of thinking for teachers when planning units, lessons and learning activities. I would love to encourage teachers to give gamification a try as a means to increase student motivation for learning.