Gamification and Education

Most of my upcoming posts are going to be on the topic of game principles for instructional design. This post reflects on my experience with simple games in our school and how this topic is going to be wildfire in the best K-12 systems very soon.

This video is the recording of a live stream keynote offered by Dr. James Paul Gee at this year’s Game for Change conference. In this talk, he offers the audience a survey of the power of what he calls “Big G Games” for developing collaborative, creative, critical, and even co-operative learning of all sorts.
I am particularly interested in what Dr. Gee says @ 20:00 in this video which is that “if you teach for facts, you don’t get problem solving but if you teach people for problem solving,” fact learning follows and people can fundamentally re-purpose the facts they learn.

We experimented with this quite unscientifically with this principle this year in our school. Though our students vary quite dramatically from the typical student population, we found the following things to be true about game mechanics and learning:

    1. Typically disengaged learners opted to participate;
    2. The problems we posed offered context and rationale for knowing certain things;
    3. Students seem to be able to make sophisticated cost-benefit analyses .

We are expecting to make a more concerted effort to operate these games inside the context of action research in the coming school year, but thus far, what we have found is encouraging (and certainly seems to align with some of the matters in the talk below).