Monday, February 4, 2013

Gamification in Education: It's World of Warcraft without the Warcraft.

...Well maybe with a little warcraft depending upon how you roll.

I first came upon the idea of Gamification from my brother, an IT guy working in the business world. I was telling him that my district was asking me to develop the professional development for our 1:1 initiative. I told him that I was looking for something new and innovative, something that will engage the teachers in my high school that was ongoing and individualized to teachers' needs. He mentioned this idea that had been around in the business world for decades: Gamification.

Gamification is the idea of using game dynamics in non-game scenarios. Basically it works like this. Video games and role playing games outline overall goals that they want you to achieve. They then design specific tasks that you do in order to work your way towards these goals. (Sounds a lot like my classroom) I have witnessed my son playing for hours on the computer, fighting bad guys on the game DC Universe. If you ask him what he is doing, he will tell you that he has to defeat enough Joker goons to gain experience to gain a level. What is at that next level? More Joker goons! Seems odd, but if I could engage my teachers (or students) at 1/10 of his level, I am doing great things.

Gamification has existed in business for decades. Karate has its belts. You perform a set of tasks and you are rewarded with a darker pigment around your waist. Airlines have frequent flyer miles, Discover card has cash back, and I can't turn the TV on without hearing about some reward my wireless company is giving out. These are all aspects of gamification.

Long story short, I devised a professional development for our staff based on this and other important principles. I am going to save this for a later post. We called it Mission Possible and it is working very well. I have presented it at a couple of conferences where it has been very well received and even have an article being edited for publication in Tech and Learning. More on this later.

At one of my conferences, I was asked if I had ever tried this with students. As I had spent so much time working on the PD, I had not yet developed anything for kids. I know there is a guy at Classrealm who has been developing some stuff, but I had not worked on it for myself. Bouncing ideas off another teacher in my building, I began to work on something special. I am pretty excited about it, but since it is a complete new look at managing my classroom, it is a little scary.

I will outline what I have for you tomorrow.