Blog Archives

Having “Fun” Without Technology?

Image of a multiplication game praising child on job well done with animated creature

Multiplication app uses game elements of points, immediate feedback and badges/trophies to improve student performance

Today while getting my requisite coffee, there was a cluster of moms.  I know they were moms because they were discussing their young kids, as moms often do with one another.  One woman was struggling to encourage her kids to have fun without technology (no, we aren’t going to go into this topic- this is a tech blog after all).  Another woman said that her younger child wanted a phone like their older sibling (even though the younger kid didn’t understand that the older sibling’s phone didn’t have a phone plan).

Yet another mom said that her kid did better with his multiplication on the iPad (over writing them out)…. wait for it… because he earned points and could earn badges.  Bet she has no idea what Gamification is, but she sees that it works… she identified its benefit.  You can’t seek out a better testimonial than a parent seeing positive results when all they want is for their child to succeed.  Let’s make learning fun, let’s make work fun… because when designed well, there are positive benefits. Education.com has provided a good list of multiplication apps.  Know a better app not on this list?  Drop us a line and let us know!

A new study shows benefits of violent video games for kids’ learning – Washington Post

See on Scoop.itgamified2learn

A new study shows benefits of violent video games for kids’ learning Washington Post Playing video games, including violent shooter games, may boost children’s learning, health and social skills, according to a review of research on the positive…

Sky V. King‘s insight:

Violent games are beneficial to learning? Not what you expect, right?  Everything in moderation, of course.

See on www.washingtonpost.com

How to Beat the Game- Motivation in Education

boy walking with carrot dangling from a stick via a hat contraptionMotivating students to achieve, learn, retain.  It’s what instructors and instructional designers want.  The question continues to be how to do it best, your newest buzz word- what’s “best practice”?  Gamification is another buzz word being throw around in various sectors from corporate business to education, with claims to increase interaction, sales or engagement by supposed triple number percentages.  Gamification is the process of applying game elements to ordinary activities to affect a desired change. A best practice, possibly. Get ready for a news flash: education is already gamified.

But, Education Is (Poorly) Gamified

Is education is already gamified? Some say yes it is, yet poorly. We say poorly because students aren’t effectively engaged and compete poorly on a global scale.  Let’s address some game design elements currently used in education:

  • Course objectives are goals for attainment.
  • Students earn points for completing tasks (assignments=quests).
  • Students collaborate in groups (guilds).
  • Students get feedback through grades.
  • Students level up based on points, moving from C-> B -> A. Students level up through grade years as well.
  • Grades K-12 have honor rolls while universities have the Dean’s List in the way of leader boards.
  • The ultimate badge/certification is a diploma.

The imperative is to address these game elements, as well as others, in order to make them more effective towards the course objectives. Game design is everywhere, as Elizabeth Sampat argues.  Gamification is one tool for learning in education, not a solution or magic formula.  It depends on the design, the mechanics.  Good Design = Good Gaming.

Get Practice in Game Design

Before you begin to apply game elements to your lessons, you may want to get into the “trenches” first. Playing well-designed games is a great way to start to get experience in gamification and game design.  Find games that have a “stickiness” factor- the addictive qualities or that desire to make you want to keep playing.  Ask yourself why you keep playing?  What makes you think about the game when you are not playing? What game elements are used and what continues to motivate you?  What frustrates you, though not enough to make you want to give up? These are the elements you should captivate and employ to increase collaboration and engagement in your courses.

Check out 16 principles of good game design by James Gee for more details how to apply game elements to education.  My favorite is “pleasantly frustrated,” whereas I continue for the past 249+ days to try to beat level 147 in Candy Crush with the sound turned off (because it is annoying), without contributing any money to it’s company, King.

Examples of Applying Game Elements to Education

1) BOSS LEVEL

Applying game elements to education is especially effective when you teach the players how to build their own game.  This Edutopia article describes how students create their own boss level assignment to overcome. The phrase “boss level” refers to the culminating challenge in a video game where players use all the skills they have to solve the problem. Students apply what they have learned during the semester to create a challenging task, a Rube Goldberg machine (a machine designed to accomplish a simple task in a complex way, usually through chain reaction)- transitioning the learner to leader.  This approach provides prime opportunity for a student-centered learning environment.

2) LECTURES

Professor Lampe from University of Michigan teaching informatics shares how he gamified his class lectures here through- *gasp* a video. Prof. Lampe has received testimonies from his former students noting they have a better recollection of the class experience and the course content compared to others classes.  Study is still ongoing to quantify the result of the gamification of his course.

3) THE QUEST

Steven Johnson from Temple University introduced The Quest to his MIS3538 Social Media Innovation course.  He used self-paced learning and self-selected activities that progressively got more difficulty providing feedback through points, badges, ranking through a leader board and recognition for leveling up.  Read more about it.

Hopefully this has your brain gears churning away of how to apply gamification principles to engage students.  Don’t forget to leave us a comment especially if you think Candy Crush’s music is weird or if you have used gamification in your course. Until next time, keep on gaming!

Size Matters! Grow a Bigger Brain By Playing Video Games

Proof is in the pudding, so they say.  Businesses look to the “bottom line” and growing their wallets so yes, size does matter!  In the field of education we look to grow a person’s passion for learning, learning retention and brain power.    Lifehacker quotes a study where playing games, specifically Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes over two months increased certain areas of grey matter in the brain.  Generally increased grey matter has been associated with better memory, while decreased grey matter has been associated with mental disorders, such as bipolar disorder and dementia.  Specific areas of the brain that grew were related to regions responsible for memory formation, strategic planning, muscle control and spatial navigation.  Here’s an article from Huffington Post that mentions this brainy video game study and others- 9 reasons why videos games are good for you.

Does Playing Video Games Increase Learning Retention?

Brain X-RaySo if playing games increases grey matter (which we can universally agree is good) and if those games contained educational content, would that improve learning retention?  Similarly what if immediately after playing a stress-relieving game, you received instruction- would that also improve or maximize learning retention?  This blog article by 1 to 1 Schools mentions several instances that notes game play improves learning retention short-term, although video games are too “new” to scientific study for long-term data.  Anyone willing to play games for the good of science?  However, this white paper states active learning increases long-term retention.  Simulation games are a great way of fostering active learning.  It’s all in the design.  Leave us a comment if you’ve played a game that has helped you learn something new or help you learn a topic better.  Do you think in the future that you’ll tell your kids to play some video games before they do their homework?

Infographic about Neurology of Gaming

TRENDING: Disney’s Second Screen Live Gamifies the Movies!

We’re going to take a break from talking about game elements that contribute to gamification right now and discuss a new trend in entertainment. Yes, I know I said that this blog was about gamification applied to education, but it’s a complex world where most everything is related.

Ever hear about the restoration of wolves to Yellowstone National Park? I rest my case about the fact that everything is connected (which I would love to include the article link, but as I’m writing this there is a government shutdown affecting the websites- link was placed in after government continued functioning fully).

American Idol & The Voice Give Opportunities for Engagement

microphone

By Lestat (Jan Mehlich) [CC-BY-SA-2.5]

American Idol and The Voice are singing competitions where audience members can vote on their favorite performances. American Idol allows audience members to vote during a two-hour window by calling, texting or submitting their votes online. The Voice allows audience members to vote through iTunes song downloads.

Both shows encourage live tweeting with performers and judges. These two shows really set the stage for audience members interacting with each other and their entertainment shows.

Disney’s Second Screen Live- Gamifying the Movies

Disney re-released “The Little Mermaid” in theaters with the following twist: bring your iPad downloaded with Second Screen Live App to interact with the movie while you are watching it. In fact when you enter the theater, you are split up into different teams named from the different characters to add a sense of competition to the mix. In addition to tapping out bubbles and fireworks, audience members solve trivia questions to rack up points.

Disney has applied game elements such as points and competition to watching a movie. Would you pay movie theater prices to watch a movie you’ve already watched? Most likely not, unless you have special connection or you watched it when you were a kid and now you have kids of your own. Disney’s betting on that too.

McDonald’s Monopoly Game Uses Gamification

In a previous post, we shared a monster of a list noting examples of gamification to include: McDonald’s Monopoly Game. “McNopoly,” as I’m coining it, encourages you to buy something that you might not normally buy in quantity, in the hopes you “win” something. Everyone likes to be a winner. It’s like like the phrase, “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere.” Someone wins at McNopoly, somewhere. However, lots of little prizes: free fries! Bet you buy a Coke to wash those fries down.

Gamifying the Movies- So What Does It All Mean

Most of us multitask, some even while using the toilet. I know, TMI. Do we really need to add another layer of stimulation in our movie theater going experience? However, the entertainment industry wants to capture ALL of your attention.

So what does this means if it was applied to education? How can we increase interaction and engagement by using some of the same elements that Disney has used? Perhaps live tweeting during classes using a specific hashtag (#FSULIS5385)? Hogwarts house style points system for answering questions correctly or doing the right & good things?

What would you do to increase engagement in learning? Would you see “The Little Mermaid” Second Screen Live if it came to a theater near you? Drop us a comment or two about what you think? Until next time, go get your game on! Don’t forget to drop by our Facebook page for additional #gamification content: http://www.facebook.com/tech2games .

Games kids play- Your first time?

My first game that I remember playing was Carmen Sandiego followed by Oregon Trail. I’ll tell you a secret if you won’t tell anyone. Promise? Okay, I still enjoy playing both of those games as an adult. I keep playing because I want to beat the games and I want to make it to Oregon faster and with more money than I did the last time. I’m competing with the game myself.

MOTIVATED TO PLAY GAMES?

Photo of person dressed as Carmen Sandiego

copyright (c) 2012 by tr.robinson (flickr)
available by Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 license

What made you keep playing? This refers to the “stickiness” of the game. Some people play games for a sense of distraction, to make the time pass in a more entertaining way like when they play punch buggy or I spy in a car. While others play to make a period of time more interesting, to up the stimulation ante such as those they playing drinking games during Walking Dead shows or while reading a silly blog post on gamification. However stickiness refers to qualities that make you pick the game controllers back up to keep playing.

So what keeps you playing, player? Were you trying to beat your own high score, to level up or white-knuckled to beat the game? Exploring imaginary worlds or role-playing as a unique character on an epic adventure? Connecting with friends or making new ones? These are some qualities that make games addictive and games are designed to be addictive.

In fact, there’s an app for that- well maybe not an app but at least a website to address video game & Internet addiction. The website is not an exaggeration of conservative folks going off the deep end. From the addiction website, it states that scientist conducted a study in 2005 that found dopamine levels in players’ brains doubled when playing. Dopamine as a mood-regulating hormone is associated with feelings of pleasure, which indicate that gaming could be chemically addictive. If you want to learn more about your brain on games, check out this great article referencing studies by James Gee.

On another note, what makes you stop playing a game you enjoy (or once enjoyed)?

In the next few blog posts, we’ll address WHY games and game elements are important, to identify the importance they play in gamification. Remember that a game does not make gamification make. For example in the reading of the previous blog post (task) that was gamified with a drinking game (game element), you were encouraged to drink more water (behavior change). Think of it this simplified way: Game Elements + Tasks/Activity =Behavior Change.

Gamify this!

DEFINE GAMIFICATION FOR 10 POINTS!

Gamification: the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service….

Glass of ice water with lemon slice and straw sitting upon a white napkin on a wooden table

Jon Sullivan/ Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain

Um, yeah. In short, we add game elements to an activity in order to change behavior. Perhaps we’ll do this to encourage someone to do something they really don’t like doing (like exercise), or we’ll gamify some activities to encourage a better quantity or quality of participation. As an example, let’s gamify this blog post.  Every time you read the word “gamification,” take a drink (ahem, of water). Cheers!

Now, I bet when you think of gamification, you’re still imagining video or computer games. Say you don’t play video games?  No worries- gamification still has a place in your life because it is everywhere.  Take a moment to think where you might have seen gamification in action.

You might think about:

Igor, it’s alive!  We’ll dismantle this monster of a list more in depth during a future post.  However, like any creation, things can go awry- especially if not well designed.

WHY AM I READING THIS BLOG?

This blog will assist you in learning more about gamification and its components.  We’ll highlight good and not so good examples of its application to avoid a franken-gamification-stein. We want good gamification, and we want it now!  We’re going to explore and discuss gamification as a trend, some “how-tos” and debate its future- which involves you!

WATCH A VIDEO: POPCORN TIME!

Extra Credits did a great video to introduce us to gamification, so let’s watch.  When they talk about gamification and it’s use in capitalism, do you think they have a valid point?

And lastly, gamification, gamification, gamification! 10 points to you if you’re on the way to the bathroom.  How many drinks was that?  What was my primary goal in gamifying this blog post, other than providing an example of gamification?  What behavior was encouraged to be modified? Drop in with a comment if you think you’ve got it.  Until next time, go get your game on!