Engagement & Gamification Takeaways

game controllerI was recently asked to briefly summarize “takeaways” for gamification and student engagement. This was not easy for me, as there is so much on these topics, and so many nuances that defy summary.

As a student of Squire, Gee, Steinkuehler, Halverson, etc, it is perhaps no surprise that I used Gee’s 13 principles as a base. I am sure there are things I’ve missed.

Gamification:
  • Players (learners) are not alike: Some like to accumulate points, but some play to socialize, some to explore, and some to express their personality. Design so a variety of players/learners can enjoy playing/learning.
  • Your game sucks: Relative to the professionally-produced multimillion dollar games your students play outside of your class, your $10k or $100k game looks terrible. Still, there are elements of playful learning in it that are better than lecture and/or worksheets.
  • Enlist Players/learners I: Your programming AI is not as exciting as real people. Build in structured opportunities for learners to engage with each other — collaborations and competitions — where a variety of skills and expertise is required to progress.
  • Enlist Players/learners II: Narratives can engage and offer learners to try on new perspectives, but yours might not work for learners of other cultural experiences. Leave enough room in them for learners to see themselves those roles and narratives. This is tricky.

Engagement:

  • Empower learners: How does your course design welcome and respect the knowledge that students already have (that brought them to your class to begin with), offer opportunities to co-design and customize the course to work with and build on their strengths and interests, and provide opportunities to engage in multiple ways, to meet students at their current and familiar comfort level while gently inviting them to try on new perspectives, roles, and values based on the epistemologies and practices of professionals in your field?
  • Provide Problem-based Learning: In what ways are you offering a safe place to risk and engage in authentic practices that are well-designed, scaffolded, and repeated (to provide practice) based on previous knowledge with new information provided as-needed and just-in-time?
  • Provide Deep Understanding: Does your course offer learners opportunities to use authentic tools to solve problems in a way that clearly ties their use to the underlying meanings and actions of the field, and offer models and opportunities with those tools, to make sense of and explore the complexities of the systems that drive understanding in the field?

Gee, of course, explains it better:

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