A great deal is being said about gamification these days, and the obvious question is, could one enrich learning, and make it more enjoyable through gamification. I don’t mean here educational simulations and so on – teachers have been doing this since Plato, but I mean the levelling-up, the badges, the like buttons: that sort of thing, the things that have become the stock-in-trade of social networking and gaming.
The following video raises some interesting notions about education and personalization generally. The gamification discussion comes right at the end, after Bill Gates comes on stage.
Where I think gamification is set to fly, is the notion that it draws in even non self-motivated learners. At my son’s school they run Mathletics, which allows students to exercise at arithmetical problems competing against other students from around the world online. The system uses rewards for levelling-up, providing new clothing for your avatar. My son finds this very motivating, and he often logs on after school hours from home to try to get more rewards.
I remember grade 6 Maths, and the endless drills. they didn’t involve competing against kids from Brasil, and I certainly never got a cute hat as a reward!
The important thing to remember, though, is that behind gamification lies the real engine for educational reform, the technological affordances allowing for personalization of learning, and everything that that entails.