I’m thinking a lot about the good and bad things about gamification. I’m planning to gamify my first-year classes in the fall, and I know I tend to be a bit starry-eyed about the possibilities the concept offers.
Gamification in education is the idea of building classwork around the similar kinds of rewards as in games — levels and badges and so on. In my case, I’m planning to use it to make the course webspace more appealing; there are only so many grades I can attach to participation in the online space given the other writing assignments and exams, but I want to provide some “bonus” incentive to engaging with blog posting and participating in lecture prep*.
I realized how well gamification works for me by using the Kobo Reading Life app for my iPad. I like the badges immensely. I always liked the completionist aspect of video games — I wanted all the coins, and similarly, even when engaged with an activity I already enjoy immensely (reading), I want to get all the badges. I get a charge out of discovering new ones.
I wonder about the extent to which this is generational.
Because I am so charged up by this idea, it’s crucial that I think a lot about the negatives and how to resolve them. I have two in mind.
The first is that some students will prefer not to engage in the gamified class elements. I’ve read a few blogs where students have felt disconnected, especially when the gamification is linked to grades. My major workaround for that is that the badges etc. will all be a completely optional bonus. Not tied to grades, just intended to add a little fun and levity to online discussions.
The other concern is a deeper one. Do things like gamification strip away a student’s inherent interest in learning by making external a motivation that should be internal? That’s a deeper philosophical question, and one I don’t really have an answer for just yet.
Do you gamify your classes? Does it work?
*Side note: My key idea for the fall is to have a wiki space set up for students to help develop the lectures collaboratively, providing questions they would like answered in class or commenting on areas they would like to explore in more detail. Perhaps more info on this in another blog post, if’n you’re interested.