One part of my morning routine recently has been to skim TED talks to look for interesting topics. Usually the topics that grab my attention are ones that relate to either education, gaming, or both. During my COETAIL courses I was introduced to the work of Jane McGonagall and the idea of gamification.
While I am intrigued by Ms. McGongall’s works and am memorized by her speeches, I have difficulty trying to figure out how I as a teacher could create something like her World Without Oil (insert video) experience for my students. In order to achieve this vision of gaming, it would require a lot of planning, collaboration, and programming. While I am alright with the planning and collaboration, I am certainly not a programmer and would need to work with someone who understands this aspects of computing. However, about a month ago I stumbled across Seth Priebatsch’s talk: the Gaming Layer on the Top of the World. His talk gave me a whole new perspective on what gaming could look like in education. Instead of focusing on gamification strictly involving technology, he focused his talk on game mechanics.
In his talk he goes over game dynamics and talks about how they are already employed through points systems within various rewards systems for different companies. He states plainly that these systems are currently not good and that they need to change. As he goes through his talk he specifically talks about four different game dynamics, one being influence and status. As he explains his examples he talks about schools and how they are already using this game dynamic in marking, reports cards, school rewards, and scholarships. During this section he continues to talk about how this dynamic could be changed in education so that instead of failing a course, your work until you level up. This could be used very nicely and easily with various math concepts.
While the use of game dynamics in education may be already in use and I may already use influence and status within my class intentionally and unintentionally, I can’t help but cringe. On one hand I want my students to learn simply for the joy of learning and not for the purpose of geting a good grade, a nice comment on their reports, or a new toy. In other words I want them to be learn for intrinsic instead of extrinsic reasons. Is there a way to balance the use of game dynamics so that students develop an intrinsic love of learning and enjoy the extrinsic as a byproduct of that joy of learning, or is our culture on a path where everything must come with some sort of physical reward or point system and if it doesn’t, then it isn’t worth doing?