Tag Archives: Games

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).

Games and the Future of Learning

TED presenter Jane McGonigal posits that game play can hold the answers to some of the world’s largest issues.

What I love about this is that her talk combines a few things that I think are vital when looking at education in the 21st Century.  Yes, people like games like WOW but I don’t think we have to turn schools into games in order to be successful instructors.  The things that WOW and school should have in common (but DON’T) are the the four things that McGonigal shows that massively multiplayer games teach really well: Optimism, Socialization, Fulfilling Engagement, and Epic Meaning.  Schools ought to be one of the places that people learn to become “Super-empowered hopeful individuals” rather than meaningless hamster cages (which, sadly, many schools can claim to be).

I am going to try this game, Evoke.  I am going to share it with my students and see if they want to play.  You can see how I am doing here.  I think it could be a really cool opportunity to deepen our discussions of current events in our class.  It is also the first really functional use I’ve seen of Transmedia Narrative construction with a deeply positive social purpose.

What is an EVOKE? from Alchemy on Vimeo.