Recently, I was given several questions as part of a whitepaper prompt covering gamification and game-based learning to submit to the InSync Blended Learning Hub (thanks Phylise!). I’ll be treating these questions informally and only plan to give off-the-cuff responses (no additional research happening here this time!). Alright, here goes nothing:

Q1) How do you define gamification?

A1) Quite simply, gamification is the act of designing fun (or opportunities for fun) into your courses. I recognize this ignores much of the complexity around injecting game mechanics into everyday life, but at its core, the main reason I want to gamify a course is to embed fun in the essence of the curriculum.

Q2) How do you define game-based learning?

A2) When you use a game or game design as part of your instructional materials, you’re engaged in game-based learning. Common examples of this include using Minecraft to teach math, programming, geography, etc. or using sports to teach teamwork and other social skills. There are certainly more times we’re learning through a game than we give credit.

Q3) What role does gamification play in blended learning?

A3) Typically, I’ve seen gamification used as a means to motivate students to complete online components of courses. I’m especially excited when I see teacher build in curiosity and student choice into their courses to give students agency over their learning and inspire them to dig deeper into the material on their own volition.

Q4) What role does game-based learning play in blended learning?

A4) Game design in particular is a huge opportunity for game-based learning in blended learning. Since it’s a design project it can be utilized to engage students in content and skills well beyond the scope of the classroom. In particular, if you’re hoping to engage students in project-based learning, design thinking, digital storytelling, digital citizenship, etc. all of this an more is easy to build in to a game design program. Especially now that many tools make digital game design much more accessible (see Q9/A9 and Q10/A10 for more information).

Q5) How do you get key stakeholders to understand the value of gamification and/or game-based learning?

A5) This is where collecting data and showcasing successful implementations is crucial. Unfortunately, there’s significant stigma around using games as teaching and learning tools, so the more positive examples we can champion, the better. Especially if we have data (and literature) as evidence to back up our claims. If we are engaging students in game design, this is where we can demonstrate the learning the students are experiencing based on their creative products. (See some faculty designed games as examples here:

Q6) How can we measure the impact of gamification and game-based learning on job performance?

A6) This is a really good questions. To me, it’s not only about measuring changes in performance, but also the mental and emotional states of people learning with and without gamification/game-based learning present. Of course the investment in gamification and game-based learning is worthwhile if people are performing better, but it’s also critical if it improve moral and motivation behind the work.

Q7) Are gamification and game-based learning here to stay? Are they fads, or will they endure as key elements of modern blended learning?

A7) This is a loaded question for me since I’ve been increasingly involved with gamification and game-based learning on my campus. Nevertheless, I image they will morph in and out of popularity in many forms over time, but we games are certainly not going anywhere and we’re still learning from them. If we build awesome implementations, they will endure (with minor adjustments to endure the changing times of course).

Q8) How will gamification and game-based learning evolve to serve the future learning landscape?

A8) I see the increase of educators with gaming backgrounds having a large impact on the future. With pedagogical expertise and familiarity with games, more individuals will be poised to develop stellar implementations of gamification and game-based learning. They will have more wholistic understands of both domains and be able to produce even better use cases.

Q9) Share an example of a great learning game or gamification approach, and highlight the features and/or strategies that you think serve to engage the learners and promote learning. Please provide links to associated resources.

A9) I encourage you to take a critical look at some video games to answer this question. Especially the very beginning of a game where it takes you through the tutorials of how to play. These are often great examples themselves.

Also, it’s hard not to highlight personal pedagogical programs (GOBLIN and eXperience Play) because I know they were intentionally designed to promote learning and engage either faculty or students. So, checkout those linked resources for much more information.

Q10) What do you recommend that practitioners do to learn more about and use gamification and game-based learning? Please provide links to associated resources.

A10) Whether your interested in gamification or game-based learning, there are significant opportunities to engage in game design. Both as a means to engage student in design thinking, programming and beyond. If you haven’t built a game before, you should build something simple like a text-based game using a tool like Twine (at Twine is great because it hardly requires any knowledge to start building your own game. Since its uses HTML, CSS, and Javascript, it can be utilized to create both simple and complex products. Plus, it is a free and open source application that works installed on computers or running solely in a browser. It’s fantastic and you should give it a try. (As part of Q9/A9 you can checkout eXperience Play as a starting point for both classroom game design curriculum and personal game design.) Have fun and feel free to share any prototypes or creations with me!

And that’s a wrap! In addition to being a valuable scholarly exercise, this was enjoyable as a time to reflect and write some short responses to complex ideas that I know and love. If you share my interest in gamification, game-based learning, game design in the classroom, etc. let’s connect!

Alternatively, I’ll offer the challenge of answering these ten questions yourself. 🙂

The featured image is provided CC0 by Aaron Burden via Unsplash.

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