A few first thoughts on games and badges

At the start of the new academic year I am reading and thinking about the so-called gamification of education. I have not read enough for a proper overview, but want to get some thoughts out there. Put very basically, the idea is that learning can occur through play. That does not mean that there has to be some kind of simulation, on-line or in-class game, rather it is about a way of structuring the learning experience. The ideas behind game-based learning are:

  • learning-by-doing,
  • focus on problem solving, and
  • engagement of students.

A nice post on the Inside HigherEd blog explains how something like the Fitbit brings gaming elements to fitness and what that may mean for learning. (Fitbit is an activity and sleep tracker, similar to the Nike Fuel Band). You can set your objectives, in the fitness case, in terms of calories or steps. Measuring steps taken or floors climbed adds motivation. The data can be tracked and analysed, but there is also immediate feedback and recognition of milestones reached. There is a social element and you can share the process and the results. It is of course all very much mobile.

For teaching an Introductory Economics course this could mean:

  • finding a way for students to set their objectives,
  • regular measurement of knowledge, skills and competencies gained, with quick feedback,
  • adding elements of sharing, collaboration and competition through badges and leaderboards, and
  • ideally it should all be easy to access – electronic and mobile.

I don’t know how to tackle all this yet, but it is being done. HBR blog network reports how Deloitte made learning in their leadership programme a game with great success.

If anyone has ideas to share on student response systems or the use of badges, please add some comments.

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