Gameful vs. Gamification
When a discussion of Gameful Learning starts anyone with knowledge of Gamification immediately thinks, how does Gamefulness compare to Gamification? Do we need a new term? I had some discussion of this on the ‘back channel’ and I think the best explanation was tweeted by Evan Straub at University of Michigan
So Gamification is about running a learning program as a type of game, while Gamefulness is about applying what we know about the underlying psychology and theory of games to make our learning activities more effective.
Barry Fishman’s analysis of successful games identified 10 attributes, which simplified down to giving a sense of competence, of belonging, and of autonomy or agency. It is likely that building these into learning programs will result in more engaging and effective learning. That, however, is quite a leap. As educators we need research and a theoretical basis for making that assertion.
Theories of motivation
What is it about games that makes them so engaging and effective as learning environments? A study of motivational theory provides the answers. Two key theories discussed in the MOOC are Achievement Goal Theory and Self Determination Theory.
Achievement Goal Theory identifies Mastery Orientation and Performance Orientations. Mastery is the most powerful orientation for learning, and is associated with intrinsic motivation. Performance orientation is when a learner associates with the achievement norms of their peers, either to compete or to avoid looking deficient. Performance orientations are linked to extrinsic motivation.
Self Determination Theory describes the conditions under which intrinsic motivation is fostered. SDT identifies three key precursors to intrinsic motivation. All of which are the bases for effective game play.
So when students experience competence, belongingness and autonomy in their learning activities, intrinsic motivation and therefore mastery orientation is facilitated. That, in a nutshell is the basis for Gameful Learning as I see it.
The question is, what practical things can we do in our classrooms to facilitate belongingness, autonomy and competence? A team at University of Michigan have developed a learning management system called GradeCraft, which incorporates these ideas. The next step for me is to leave the MOOC for a while and spend some time investigating GradeCraft.