June 17, 2012

Recommendations for Education

Is this really the future?

We have given you quite a few articles and posts on gamification within the field of education, but it is now time to tell you what we think of the process overall.  It is good to hear the news regarding it, but as quasi-experts in our field, we'd like to open a discussion based around it.

First, I think we need to break it down into two categories:
1) self-learning
2) classroom learning

The impact that gamification has had on the self-learning is rather remarkable.  Due to the internet, more and more people have access to information about whatever they want.  If I want to become the next expert on underwater basket weaving, there are now places online where I can find information to help me.  However, where does gamification play a role in this?  We have already mentioned how there are places such as busuu.com that are designed to help you learn via the main tenets of gamification.  Similarly, people have designed programs like Epic Win that can help you in general to set and plan for your goals.  Thus, I am not overly worried for the future of gamification in self-learning, since that field is not only growing but showing actual results.

Perhaps here gamification can help

What I am worried about is gamification in the classroom.  As a former teacher, I have seen very few applications of this succeed.  Even if we go back to the old days of Oregon Trail, you can simply determine from most kids that these days were simply days to celebrate thanks to extra rest.  Minor games are of course always welcome and able to help draw the students' attention, but can it really go beyond this?  I am going to argue that at this point, it can't.  Gamification is great for inspiring the whole class temporarily, but given current programs and technology it is nearly impossible to go beyond that.  Does that make it a fad or something inconsequential?

I would argue no.  Elements of gamification are surely applicable to the field as a whole, such as trying to inspire and educate through say leaderboards within the classroom.  Plus, gamifying education has occurred ever since the first Homo Sapien taught another how to throw a weapon.  Even though we are amazed by how quickly and rapidly gamification has changed self-learning opportunities, we need to step back and have appropriate expectations for the field overall.  As long as we do that, we can continue to see minute gains in the classroom while experiencing revolution outside of it.

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