Sunday, April 2, 2017

A New Definition of Gamification?

So quite recently Taylor gave a talk in class about gamification in the classroom, and I was actually quite surprised. It seems as if I was used to a completely different concept of gamification than what Taylor presented to the class. It is not entirely strange that there exist two different definitions of gamification, and it did allow me to grow more used to the idea of gamification in the classroom.

Before I talk about the new ideas that I have thought of for gamification I’ll take a few sentences to explain the differences in what I thought to what Taylor knew. My thought of gamification was of applying the concepts of a game to the classroom. I’ll just start making analogies to World of Warcraft because it boils down game mechanics to their base state. In World of Warcraft you do quests, kill creatures and explore a world all for many different reasons. In the essence of World of Warcraft everything you do is to level up, all of the tasks are just to get the “ding” of the next level. Gamification is the process of taking that need for the “ding” of a level and applying it to the classroom. This entails some kind of progression in the classroom, homework gets you points as well as good tests and quizzes. In a perfect world, students would strive to do these things well in order to get that next level up. The way that Taylor knew and presented gamification is quite a different idea though. Taylor spoke on a classroom where games were used to teach topics, instead of lectures you teach through the games. One game that was mentioned was the use of monopoly to teach things like math and probability, but it doesn’t just stop there. With the advent of video games, there are whole worlds of lessons that could be learned through video games and applied to a classroom setting.

In concern to my own version of gamification, I frankly don’t like the idea of it. It has taken me a while to narrow down why I disagree with it, but I think it is because of the implication of why the student is learning. Is a student just speeding through material to get the satisfaction of the level up or are they genuinely investing in their learning? It comes with the same ideas of what we are doing currently in the school system, are students genuinely learning or are they just doing the busy work for the grade on the test and then forgetting the material?

This is in stark contrast to the ideas put forward by Taylor, in this form of gamification students learn by playing a game of some sort. Ideally, in this form, students use games that they want to play and from those games, they truly learn the concepts the game creators built into the game. I love this idea because I love games and I think they can teach a lot. I had heard a little bit about the application of video games in the classroom before Taylor’s talk, the forefront of it being Minecraft and its various applications. The thing that is more interesting to me though is the application of board games, it is one that I hadn’t had as of yet. Now that I’m thinking about it though, there are a list of games that I have that could be applicable to a classroom. For math and stats, I think the most applicable board game I could think of right now is Settlers of Catan. Catan is a civilization builder with great strategy, but underlying it all is mathematics for resource management and statistics for getting those resources. A quick one to learn and play would be Coup, in Coup there are a limited number of role cards that each player can have. The purpose is to call each other out on the other player’s role cards, it greatly helps if you know the probability of who has what. In addition to that though both are just fun games that people enjoy that you can really learn from.

I don’t know which of these is definitions is correct, or if it really matters at all. In the end, I think either way we would see student comprehension and that is what we are truly after. I just think that with the version of gamification that was presented by Taylor shows tremendous promise for classrooms and student learning.