Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

How Will You Explain Game-Based Learning in The Simpliest Way?

Albert Einstein was my idol when I was a teenager. One quote from him had imprinted itself in my mind:

quote from albert einstein

My question : How will you explain a well designed game-based learning in the simpliest way?

Last week, I read this article on Forbes about “5 Gamification Rules from the Grandfather of Gamification” – Charles Coonradt, the author of “The Game of Work”. He wrote the book in 1984. He asked :

“Why would people pay for the privilege of working harder at their chosen sport or recreational pursuit than they would work at a job where they were being paid?”

Chuck answered his own question by developing five key principles:

  1. Clearly defined goals
  2. Better scorekeeping and scorecards
  3. More frequent feedback
  4. A higher degree of personal choice of methods
  5. Consistent coaching

He says in his book that he has built two feedback corollaries upon a statement first made by Thomas S. Monson that may well be one of the most well-known goal setting and feedback principles ever written:

“When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates.”

His feedback corollaries are:

  1. Increasing the frequency of feedback improves the quality and quantity of performance.
  2. When feedback is illustrated on charts and graphs, the impact is even greater.

He called it The Game of Work, now we wrap it in some software and call it gamification.

That reminds me an old post, actually it’s a briefing for a thesis called Digital game-based learning: Towards an experiential gaming model, introduced a model to represent the way that we learn through educational games (You can find a copy of the paper here). It’s a  great model to examine if a learning game is well learning

The paper suggests 5 key elements that an educational game designer should put his attention on.

  1. Creating a real engaging challenging game. (without the educational part yet)
  2. Allow users to experiment with the objects in the world.
  3. Give enough feedback so that the player knows where he went wrong, or where he was right.
  4. Make the challenges balanced. (too challenging gives frustration, on the other hand not enough challenge leads to boredom)
  5. Provide clear goals.

Doesn’t this list look quite close to the list of 5 principles from Chuck? Next time if you have a chance to give an elevator pitch to sell the idea of game-based learning, of course it’s a well designed game-based learning hopefully. What will you say if you only have 1 minute? After absorbing the wisdom from masters, here is my version :

  1. A context(story) for motivation
  2. Clear goals oriented
  3. Frequent feedback for accelerating learning
  4. A safe place with freedom of choice to play(experiment) and fail 
  5. Flow with coaching and adaptive learning environment

Oh, I just found that badges or points aren’t necessarily included, although they are usually used to give feedback to players. But it’s meaningful to players only when players care. Feedback is the most important element that players need if they have been motivated to play the game. What’s your version ?


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1 Response »


  1. Play and Learn Weekly, Sep.29th, 2012 | Classroom Aid

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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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