In my last post I started thinking about the work of Barry Fishman on Gameful Learning. I got as far as concluding that school is a game, but not a very good one. On the other hand, we know from experience that good games are powerful learning environments, but the learning is generally not very useful outside the game. The logical conclusion from this is, if we could make school into a better game then useful learning would be enhanced.
In his EdX MOOC (Gameful Learning 101), Fishman identifies 10 principles behind good games.
1 Clear Learning Goals
Games all have clear and well defined goals.
2 Identity Play
In game play the identity of the player merges into a game identity. It is easiest to understand this in the context where a player identifies with a character in a computer game
3 Embedded Assessment
Games don’t stop to see what you have learned. Skill is demonstrated and rewarded within the game play.
4 Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
Games have built in motivators which reward play. They also have extrinsic motivators, for instance digital badges which can be shared to earn status in the game community.
5 Support Autonomy
In a good game the players are often allowed (or encouraged) to explore and find their way through he game. They are also often able to find alternative ways to play the game.
6 Encourage Belonging
Good games are supported by communities that promote belonging. Sports clubs and online communities for computer games are examples.
7 Support Competence
As competence grows the games gets harder and more enjoyable.
8 Productive Failure
In a game failure is never final. Gamers know they can come back and learn from their mistake.
9 Encourage Exploration
A game always encourages exploration. In any game a good gamer will explore, even after competing a level, to find out more about the level and a better way to complete it. This is particularly true of computers games. Another example is golf, as golfers will repeatedly play a course to improve their score and find better solutions to the problems the course presents.
10 Practice and Reinforcement
Practicing a game is rewarded by improvement in the skills of the game.
The School Game
If some of these attributes of a good game can be applied to education, then the game we call school will be improved. Leading to improved student engagement and learning.
How to do that will be covered in future posts.