Gamification is a relatively recent thing, but as Professor Kevin Werbach pointed out in this week’s Office Hours Google Hangout, it’s a field that is likely to continue to become more mainstream, much the same way social media has become part of life over the last ten years. Using game elements in non-game contexts is getting some serious attention–just check out the Gamification Research Network for a taste.
One of the principles of games is voluntary participation or choice — we voluntarily choose to play and follow a set of rules. It’s part of the fun! How then can gamification be applied in an educational context which most often involves lots of compulsory elements and pathways? Some time ago I read about Quest To Learn in the book Now You See It by Cathy Davidson. Quest To Learn is a full scale model of how games, game theory and gamification can be applied in a school setting. It’s inspirational and well worth investigating.
Before tackling whole school gamification I thought I’d like to try tinking around with applying game elements in a few of our high school classes. Right now I’m working with one of our Social Studies teachers and our IT support folks on gamifying a project about ‘the way history is recorded in the digital age’. We’re using the Japan Digital Archive as the playground and students will be invited to role-play being an archiver, researcher and curator. The game elements we’re employing include awarding points for different kinds of work, and badges for completing a series of challenges. We’ve set up a simple site where players can log their work and see updates on the whole classes progress as well as their individual achievements. Our goal is to motivate students to explore the world of the archive and since some of the activities are a bit mundane we’re hoping to make it more fun and engaging with game elements.
I’m excited to see how it goes. I’ll be sure to write about the ups and downs in a few weeks time.