There’s a lot of discussion currently underway regarding the gamification of all sorts of environments, from the workplace to the classroom. While it’s nice, I suppose, to work on something that’s considered hot stuff, I’m less interested in being cutting edge or flashy than I am in finding a way to bring together in one cohesive package the things I value most regarding learning. Here are the things I’m looking for that I believe gaming provides:
Individualized skills development
When we play games, we learn at our own pace. It may take me three respawns to figure out a fight, and it may only take you one. That’s okay. I might focus on leveling up a tradeskill while you build rep. That’s allowed. My students should have the same opportunities.
Choice, ownership, agency. Some of the best games out there immerse us in their worlds and the tasks at hand because they allow us to decide who we are and how we’ll conduct ourselves. How often do our students go through the points-grabbing motions because they don’t own anything that takes place in the classroom?
Collaboration and development of strong team bonds
I want my kids to be able to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and tackle problems together. Ideally, the classroom would be a tight-knit community of individuals bound together by a common purpose and similar beliefs about how to get the job done. Not unlike a guild.
Constant feedback in a variety of formats
Gamers get constant updates about how they’re doing, what their teammates or opponents are up to, and what steps to take to accomplish the next objective. Feedback beyond just a grade is crucial for motivating students to improve their skills.
Resilience in the face of failure
In games, we stand in fire, die, and learn (hopefully!) not to stand in fire again. We fail spectacularly when fighting a boss, research and confer with group members, alter strategy, and win. Learning happens as a result of those failures, and we are okay with failing in games. Not so much in the classroom. However, if we’re looking for mastery of skills, risk, or creativity from our students, failure has got to be an option.
Part of the job of bringing gaming into my classroom will be gaining parent support for the whole thing. I’ve created a little resource, available here, in order to share some of the why-am-I-doing-this with them. What do you think? I would appreciate any feedback in the comments.