Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

Are You Ready to Gamify Your Classrooms?

Games can put context into why people do something, in the same way it can engage learners. Maybe you are interested to use the power of play to ignite the learning passion in classrooms. You definitely want to take a closer examination on why and how it works. We try to collect some helpful works that could back you up, but we haven’t mentioned in previous posts about game-based learning.

Andrew Miller  is an international educational consultant specializing in many areas including online learning and games-based learning and gamification of education. He gave the clarification on the terms: “Serious Games”, “Gamification of Education” and “Game Based Learning” in this post.

In short…

Serious games require learning in order to solve a problem, no matter they are learning games or simulations. They are used in a variety of industries to train students.

Game Based Learning (GBL) refers to any practice that uses both serious games that balance gameplay with learning subject matter, as well as any instruction that also draws on “non-educational” games.

Gamification is a process of applying game mechanics to something that is not a game (not only in education). Here, elements of games are applied to the overall model of instruction. Lessons become quests, and assessments become boss levels.

Overall it seems the gamification is at a bigger scope envisioned and designed by educators to facilitate an effective learning process. While well-designed commercial or free educational games can support the endeavors in classrooms. No matter which approach works the best in specific examples or circumstances, the purpose is to engage learners by the elements of gaming. To confine the ways to gamify learning within any definition of the above terms isn’t necessary.   3D GameLab has created a tool and professional development to help you gamify your classroom. (more about 3D GameLab)

Most people would agree that a good game could help students learn. But what, exactly, makes a game good? How do kids learn when they play games? How are games designed to best facilitate the transfer of learning to the realities of students’ everyday lives? And how can we use all of this knowledge to guide future game design? The Games for Learning Institute (G4LI) is seeking to answer these questions, hoping to help building a new paradigm for education. Not all games are effective for learning. G4LI reviews games, conducted researches and has developed evaluation rubric for games for learning. This white paper on  Learning Mechanics and Assessment Mechanics for Games for Learning: G4LI White Paper 01-2011 Learning Assessment Mechanics is worth your reading. You could find more studies from List of Research on Game-based Learning on (by Lucas Gillispie).

world of warcraft

WOWinSchool is a project using World of Warcraft as the platform of Language Art and Math curricula for middle schoolers. All project materials, including a fully developed language arts course, aligned to middle grades standards, is now available under a creative commons license. (by Lucas Gillispie) The sharing from real teachers in real classrooms is a great reference. Lucas also builds resources on using Mindcraft in school and using iPod games for learning.

Game-Based Learning Database of Resources(google doc.) is a collectively built educational games database from edWeb. There are more than 100 games categorized by ages, purposes, prices and sources, etc. You can add contents to the documents, too. Game Classroom have educational games, lessons and videos reviewed and categorized into subjects and grades (K-6) by experienced educators.  To find more games, you could check out our pages on learning games in MathematicsLanguage ArtsScienceSocial studiesArts and Music, game building resources, and more. Good games will become popular part of teachers’ curation and sharing.

The “future of gaming” by PSFK collects some inspiring examples of gamification used in different areas, these could bring some ideas about its potential to you. The report provides a current snapshot into the innovative ways that games are being used within the broader marketplace, examine their expanding role in effecting change on an individual and societal level, and highlight the new technologies that are making these experiences possible.

Karl Kapp has written a book on gamification: The Gamification of Learning and Instruction, and Clark Quinn gave a review on the book. According to Clark’s review, Karl gave valuable insights on game design for learning:

Chapters 7-9 are, to me, the most valuable from my point of view; how do you do game design (the focus of Engaging Learning). Chapter 7 talks about Applying Gamification to Problem Solving and helps explain how serious games provide deep practice. Chapter 8 maps gamification on to different learning domains such as declarative, procedural, affective, and more. There are valuable hints and tips here for other areas as well as the ones I think are most important.  And Chapter 9 provides valuable guidance about the design process itself.

From Karl’s book, this quote is a good one about gamifying learning and a remark at the end of this post. You can take this quiz to see how much you understand about gamifying learning: Are you a gamification wizard? Play the game. Each question goes with “what Karl says”.

The gamification of learning cannot be a random afterthought. It needs to be carefully planned, well designed, and undertaken with a careful balance of game, pedagogy, and simulation.

Recommended reading in case you haven’t read them:

Game-Based Learning Units for the Everyday Teacher (by Andrew Miller)

Get Your Game On: How to Build Curriculum Units Using the Video Game Model (by Andrew Miller)

How to Plan Instruction Using the Video Game Model (by Judy Willis)

The Gamification of Education: What School Can Learn from Video Games (by Terrell Heick)


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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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