I like the idea of games in learning, generally speaking. Why shouldn't learning be fun? Set the capitals of the states to music, turn the stock market into a game, great. But lately the eLearning community is all aflutter about the gamification of learning. Game this. Video that. Avatar all the things!
Sure, I think there's a place for games in learning. Yes, I think to some degree games can improve learner engagement. But what about retention? What about actual knowledge gain? And mostly, what about the message we, as eLearning developers, are sending? Should everything be a game?
A game-based school for 6th graders opened in Los Angeles. It looks like attending the school would be a blast. But I have to wonder how kids attending a school where everything is a game are going to turn out. Will they be motivated to do anything if there's not a prize at the end? Will the students want to learn for the pure joy of discovery and the attainment of knowledge, or will they always only be focused on leveling-up? What about when they enter the workplace? Will their jobs need to be set up on an instant gratification game system? Or will it even matter, because at that point all of our job training and all of our work will be gamified as well?
Conversely, maybe these kids will go on to be super-motivated brainiacs because they "learned to learn" in an environment based upon fun and games. I certainly don't know. What's concerning to me, is that I'm not sure if anyone knows. Are we gamifying things because it's the new, fun, thing to do? Or are we doing it because it works? We'd love to hear from you.
I have mostly questions, and no answers. I've yet to come across any research that goes beyond how gamification can be applied, instead focusing on whether or not gamification works. What I did find was an interesting survey conducted by the Pew Research Center (Gamification: Experts expect 'game layers' to expand in the future, with positive and negative results). I found it interesting because it looked at gamification from both sides, pointing out that some industry experts think gaming can be "fun, useful, increasing engagement and personal improvement" while others say it can also be "manipulative, insidious." Because it was only an opinion survey, however, there was no statistical data on whether the gaming is working.
Check out this infographic from Knewton about the Gamification of Education. Looking for more? Here's an infographic by OnlineSchools.com that goes into a little more detail about gaming in education. (And, if you'd like to know how to make your own infographic, check out this blog post on using PowerPoint.)
I think the term is absolutely a fad - it's not like the idea of making education fun hasn't occurred to anyone until now. I remember learning about currency around 2nd grade, getting a "checkbook" and plastic coins and getting to go to a store the teacher set up in one corner of my classroom. The term "gamification" didn't exist back then, but we were playing a game to reinforce learning.
I think as long as it's a reinforcement rather than a replacement I think it's a great thing. The first article you linked to mentioned preparing kids for a future that we can't imagine, and I think a certain shifting of the curriculum is necessary given the insanely fast growth of technology and thus human capability, but I just hope that history doesn't fall by the wayside. Sure, we need to think in new ways, but we also need to understand why people used to think in the old way in order to move forward.
Posted by: Theleastshrew | April 06, 2015 at 11:05 AM