Gamification

By | 30th August 2013

I was playing a game on my Xbox the other day when I suddenly realised that I was not playing for fun. I was playing for work.

Let me explain.

When you play any Xbox game you are given achievements. These can be for getting a high score or collecting a certain amount of tokens or coins and come with a numerical value attached. These achievements and points are tracked across all of the games you play, and are linked to, and displayed on, your account. This score means nothing. It’s purely for display purposes. Yet I’ve often found myself putting hours of work in (and it is work, I’m rarely having fun) chasing these achievements. And it’s not just me. There are websites devoted to hunting these things down.

It all boils down to an idea called ‘gamification’ (I’m just going to acknowledge how awful this word is now and move on). Simply: making chores more fun by adding a metagame around them. There’s a great video about it below, which is equal parts exciting, cool and a glimpse into a cold terrifying future (anyone who has seen Black Mirror[NSFW] will know what I’m on about).

Warning: the following video contains brief swearing. 

I believe that gamification has a potential to make a massive difference in education. Let’s take one quick example:

Class Dojo

Class Dojo

Class Dojo is an awesome behaviour management tool that allows you to give student monster avatars and

Many schools track ‘behaviour points’ trough SIMS or other systems at the moment, but Class Dojo differs in quite major ways to the ways that I’ve seen behaviour points used.

  1. The points can change on a minute by minute basis. 
    The idea behind Class Dojo is to leave it running during your lesson and to give points for behaviours you want to see, and give negative points for behaviours that are unacceptable. This provides a running commentary to the student about how they are getting on in lesson. Often behaviour management points rely too much on a small number of points, with students rarely receiving more than one point, either positive or negative, per lesson.  Class Dojo shifts the scale, giving students points per action. This is particularly valuable for SEN students and those that find tracking the behaviour difficult. Students want to gain points. They want to score the best. Even if, like my Xbox gamerscore, there is no tangible reward for doing so.
  2. The information is shared with the student.
    Students want to know their behaviour score, but often that information is not shared with them unless they are in trouble or receiving a certificate. Students want a running total. They want to see it. Only then can they modify their behaviour.

Class Dojo is really cool, and I’d be really interested to hear if anyone who reads this has had any success in implementing gamification ideas in their classroom, or if you think the very idea is abhorrent (as a little voice in the back of my head tells me it might be).  Comment below and read more about gamification at gamification.co

 

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