Gamifying Education

I’ve noticed that the idea of “gamifying” education has become a popular topic. It seems to get discussed everywhere, as if video games are the new be-all, end-all solution on how to get people interested in education.

That’s not to say that I don’t think there are lessons we can learn from video games. They have definitely been successful at convincing players that failure is something to learn from, and not something to get all upset over. And that’s a lesson that we would do good repeating in school.

My sister recently sent me a link to a video about how you could possibly gamify education. And they do have some good points.

But I wish people would take a moment to pause and think back over their years of education. Teachers have known and used reward systems for years. Remember collecting gold stars? Or charting your progress on a graph?

One of the points I do like in this video, and it’s one that’s come up before in conversation with others, is that people approach classes as if they have 100% and each mistake will drop their grade. When really, it’s the opposite. You have no marks when you start a class, and each assignment you complete slowly moves you towards a passing grade. I do think this just requires a change of mentality in students. And it’s something teachers could easily work towards as they start a class. It’s simple to put in a single slide during the outline pointing this out. I don’t think of doing this as “gamifying” education and it really doesn’t require any real effort. But I do think this could go a long way towards having students accept some more responsibility for their work.

Unfortunately, I think people are latching on eagerly to the term gamify and that we’ll continue to see lots more about this in the future. I just hope they take the time to look at what teachers have already been doing and give them credit, instead of acting like these are all new ideas.

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