Gamification – continued


Gamification Study by MIT – next big thing or next big hype? –  – President Peter Drucker Society Europe

Kim McCumber

Passionate Digital Marketing Trainer & Leader

The book/paper focuses on one particular aspect of gamification – assessments. I think they have some incredibly valid points in terms of the contextualization of content within the assessment compared to traditional testing.

I don’t believe gamification is the “next big thing” or “hype”. It’s a tool in educators’ toolboxes and should be considered and used when applicable. When you think about the broader use of gamification (such as the corporate training context), I feel it’s important to evaluate the learner and whether intrinsic or extrinsic motivators are most desirable.

That being said, I LOVE David’s comparison of traditional assessments (falling/failing down) compared to gamfication-based assessments (building up)

Allain McCallum

E-Learning Consultant/Contractor at A Different Perspective

“It’s a tool in educators’ toolboxes and should be considered and used when applicable.”

Bravo!!! I think it is so important that we keep this in mind with every tool and resource we have. When dealing with the complexity of the human mind in our learners and the exponential impact of the number of learners in any demographic facing our deliverables there is no such thing as one size fits all. Our skill has to be in the awareness of the resources available, and the skill with which we create the learning mosaic for their learning pleasure.

Simon Poole-Andersson

VLE & Digital Media at OCL / Creative Director at Hybrid Vision Ltd.

When discussing gamification it appears important to note that focusing on ‘tools in a box’ for Prensky’s ‘digital immigrants’ may not be the most prudent approach. It is likely to be far more beneficial in the context young people’s learning for educators to react intelligently and promptly to digital native preferences for highly engaging, interactive media. This appears key as a vast percentage of young people are both highly accustomed to, and highly proficient with, the aforementioned platforms. They have often been ‘weaned’ from an early age and most importantly digital natives will continue to consume interactive media regardless of how slow digital immigrants may be to adopt new learning methodologies, educators included. With 5-16 year olds playing, on average, 1.5 hours of video games per day on some sort of New Media device (UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology no.405, 2012) surely the most pivotal argument regarding gamification is not ‘should we’ but rather ‘how quickly can we’.

The ultimate goal of implementing educational gamification should be to recognise and react to the wider behaviour of contemporary learners in order to partially convert an evident recreational preference for gaming into productive learning. Having professionally utilised educational gamification (www.iamlearning.co.uk) I can report that it has proved highly successful in achieving the aforementioned ultimate goal, and as an Interaction Design / Learning Technology specialist, I can fully understand the reasons why this is the case. The ‘tools in the box’ for educators can only be utilised if the educators understand how to use them whereas conversely the students already possess that understanding.

Allain McCallum

E-Learning Consultant/Contractor at A Different Perspective

Great comments Simon. In order for educators to “react intelligently and promptly”, they have to first be aware of a concept/process/tool, and secondly know how and why the it does what it does. This is that part that I refer to as a “tool in the tool box”. If I as an instructional designer am going to use a process or strategy as a part of my design, I first need to understand it, how it functions, why it functions the way that it does, and what situations it can and cannot be used in. As a for instance I am looking at doing some work for CUSO in international aid, where if I end up working with a 5-16 demographic in a remote community they arelikely to be far less gamified than the demographic referred to in the study and your comments. It doesn’t mean the information is wrong, only that the tool doesn’t fit the job.

I’ve seen people use the butt end of a screwdriver to hammer nails…it can be made to work, but it isn’t pretty or efficient and can leave people with the impression that screwdrivers don’t work as tools, or nails are a silly idea and shouldn’t be used.
I agree that the upcoming generations are wired toward gamification.I also know from friends who are gamers that there are games out there that people love, and that for want of a better term…suck.
I’ve seen gamification used in education and adult training. Again, some was well received, some…well…sucked…
So this is my point, gamification isn’t right or wrong, good or bad, it just is. That makes it a tool we as instructional designers can use if appropriate to the situation to create better learning.

Simon Poole-Andersson

VLE & Digital Media at OCL / Creative Director at Hybrid Vision Ltd.

Thanks for your response Allain, I am partly in agreement but also disagree with some points. I agree that educators should be aware of the gamification concept, as you mention, but don’t believe it is necessarily pivotal for educators to ‘know how and why it does what it does’. The somewhat unfortunate truth is that the majority of digital immigrant (Prensky, M) educators may never grasp the aforementioned ideas in any depth and moreover they will probably cite a ‘lack of time’ as the reason for this. We should remember that, e-learning specialists aside, a gargantuan variation in learning technology proficiency exists among practitioners within the education sector. Instead of attempting to obtain a full understanding among all educators I believe an alternative approach is wiser. The creators of the educational games should have the fullest understanding of pedagogic principles and should consult intensively with educators during said creation. The end product should then be examined and ratified by another group of ‘high profile’ educators and those ‘less high profile’ too. At this stage the medium should then be utilised, in classes, with digital native students, regardless of how much individual educators may understand of it. The key points are that in this scenario the gamification has been verified in the context of educational merit and the learners themselves are most likely to be highly conversant with the medium. The only element that all educators need to comprehend, based upon my own experience, is how to retrieve the assessment data. This data is usually very easily obtained and educators can isolate progression and attainment pie charts and stats from an entire institution, a year group or right down to an individuals’ progression.

The CUSO remote community example is interesting however in practice I believe that those children would learn how to use games far quicker than you would imagine because of the high levels of multi- sensory engagement inherent in the medium i.e. it is enthralling to all regardless of initial proficiency (this was demonstrated in India by Sugata Mitra and his ‘hole in the wall’ computer initiative).
In regards to the ‘good versus bad’ games this is the responsibility of the creators but interestingly the complexity or subjective nature of gameplay is less important that the fact that digital natives appear to prefer educational gamification to other passive approaches. In this regard, and when looking at the stats for 5-16 demographic in developed/growing nations it appears that gamification is infinitely more ‘appropriate’ as a tool than most realise. I have found that learners are able to recognise the importance of homework (for example) but prefer to complete it on their own terms (i.e. their own evidenced preferences for gaming) by using blended technologies that combine learning and recreation, together.

David Goodman

Executive, SoftAssist, Inc.

I do not believe that there is anything wrong with games and gamification within learning either in the schools or business, so for me, gaming is not hype – it is another delivery medium. The difficulty that I see in schools is that the teachers have an existing curriculum that must be accomplished, the students must pass and achieve at a higher level every year, there is pressure for the teachers to perform, union pressure and directions on “changes”, the political climate in the US, Common Core standards, etc, etc. The issue is how to introduce, gaming into the existing environment such that the teachers will not be penalized for trying something new (with the possibility of something less than success at first). There appears to be too many pressure points coming at the same time, from different sources.

In a conversation just yesterday, a parent did not want “games” in the schools because games connote competition & rewards and the parent wanted less competition and less pressure for her children. I think we are looking at the wrong thing when we ask if games and gaming have value in education. Games should be viewed the same way as books, paper material, smart boards – it is a medium to be used.

Simon Poole-Andersson

VLE & Digital Media at OCL / Creative Director at Hybrid Vision Ltd.

Your points regarding curriculum are wholly valid David and I have a similar experience when incorporating these concerns whilst working with senior educational leaders. The key point I am attempting to convey in this discussion is that, in my opinion, gamification should not only be viewed as a delivery medium ‘the same way as books, paper material…smart boards’. My rationale for this statement is that digital native learners or the ‘born digital’ generation are largely not choosing to engage with ‘books, paper material or smart boards’ as a personal recreational preference. Instead research shows (please see previous citation) a majority proportion prefers to engage with video games. This recreational preference, this desire to engage and become proficient with highly interactive new media is really the crux of the entire gamification debate in my opinion. When one considers this preference, one is also considering motivation. Digital native learners are motivated to engage with video games and this motivation is not evidenced to exist with more traditional, passive delivery media. In this way educational gamification is not just another ‘tool in the box’ but rather an intelligent (albeit overdue) response to contemporary behavioural preferences for a significant learner demographic. By harnessing this preference educators are able to ‘claim back’ a varying proportion of recreational gaming time for productive learning. This claim is not from a secondary statistical source but rather primary research I’ve gained through interviewing learners that actively utilise educational gamification (www.iamlearning.co.uk) and I found their responses to be quite profound in the context of evolving pedagogic methodologies.

David Goodman

Executive, SoftAssist, Inc.

Simon – no argument from me – I agree with your points. There may be a large audience without access to video devices, smart phones, etc.especially if they are playing games for learning. It might be a question of access and if access, would that time be used with their friends to play educational games? If we look at the time within a school facility, the question might be how do we provide video games for learning. You could connect the video device to the smartboard and have the class select teams to play. You could accomplish the games in 5 minute increments throughout the week. Kids teaching kids is an additional benefit.