- Novel way of learning content. Which one do you think would be more engaging -- a PowerPoint lecture about the Underground Railroad, or roleplaying as an actual runaway slave?
- Immediate feedback and gratification. By the nature of a typical classroom experience, we are all about the delayed gratification. You study or research, apply yourself to an assessment or write your essay, turn it in...and wait, sometimes days or even weeks for a grade and feedback. In a game, you know as soon as you try whether you succeed or fail. And if you fail...
- The power of a 1UP. It's fascinating that the same young people who never want to revise a paper or "try again" are willing to sweat through a game level over and over until they defeat their big boss. But the philosophy behind the way a teacher assesses and grades is also interesting to note here. Is it right to only give students one chance with no "do-overs"? In standards-based grading, reaching proficiency in various areas is a continual process of opportunity, not given only once on that Friday in September. ("You failed the test, so you can never learn that skill. Let's move on.")
- The power of a "Leaderboard." For many modern video games, there are virtual trophies you earn for achieving certain goals, called badges. Of course, this leaderboard of badges can be shared socially with other gamers as a point of pride. Although I used Edmodo my last few years of teaching, I regret not trying out their "badge" system in my own classroom. However, other teachers have totally embraced this approach with their own students (and not just with Edmodo!).
- Cultivating creative and cooperative skills. Last but not least, we shouldn't ignore the creative and cooperative juices that get flowing with games. It takes intelligence to problem solve a riddle or determine when to use the right power at the right time. To take one popular game example, "modding" in Minecraft is the pinnacle of creativity (and recently in our own backyard, a group of enthusiasts are creating the whole city of Louisville as a Minecraft map). In team based endeavors, the virtual stakes are high to work together to achieve a goal where all will benefit.
|A student's character takes health point damage from a random event. If the team has a Healer, however, they can recover quickly, adding to the cooperative nature of Classcraft.|
|In the "dashboard" of the teacher's account, Mr. Oltman surveys the state of the various teams in his class.|
|Mr. Oltman's first generation 3D printer.|
Update 1/23/15: After publishing this entry, I saw a tweet (embedded below with a great infographic) that led me to a detailed article about the differences between gamification and game-based learning. I realize now that I somewhat vaguely used these terms interchangeably, which is incorrect. So please check out Steven Isaac's article on Inservice ASCD.