Games…those frivolous time-wasters that distract from REAL learning. When I reflect on my years in the classroom, “playing games” was something I never valued. I didn’t value it because, in my experiences at home, game-playing has always been perceived as a waste of time. It’s something you did when you didn’t have anything important to do, or wanted to connect with your family.
I have watched and been a part of the whole technology integration thing, and I fear that we are going to go the same path in efforts to improve teaching and learning through video games that we have with computers in general — by integrating video games into the classroom — rather than the other way around. Source: David Warlick
Some early reflection probably would have revealed the startling opposition of those two ideas–surely, one was wrong. Was game-playing frivolous or a way to connect with your family? Since I grew up playing games of strategy with my parents, it was clear they valued gaming quite a bit as a way to develop my mind, and to bond. Later, I began playing games on my own, admittedly, first-person shooters, games of exploration…games that required me to do little thinking. However, my young son grew up watching me play, and his experience with games was markedly different. He began seeing games as puzzles to solve, a maze to master, a way to develop an answer to the game-designers questions.
Gamification activities are social and require students to work together and think analytically and critically. Students must have opportunities to take data, information and analyze, synthesize and evaluate in a gamified environment.
My favorite game to see him play included Command and Conquer, a game that he clearly strategized in anticipation of. For him, gaming wasn’t a waste of time, but a mind-strengthener, a way of thinking in ways he hadn’t before. In fact, his interaction with strategy games reminded me of the way some played chess (a game I never liked because I didn’t want to think strategy, or anticipate an opponent’s moves in advance).
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In Kim Caise’s book, she explores gamification. She describes it as “a strategy to make life’s hard things fun.” If classrooms are hard work and not fun, as David Warlick suggests in his quote at the top of this blog entry, then Kim’s suggestion makes gamification a way to transform how we approach learning.
Some ways to describe Kim’s book:
“Gamification enables technology-enhanced engagement that stimulates classroom creativity and collaboration that extends beyond it. The author makes a clear connection between gamification as the way to bridge content learned in school to real learning that endures in children’s lives.”
“Forgetting how games build bonds that last in a fun, collaborative way, teachers today need to scaffold learning in ways to foster data gathering, analysis, evaluation and collaborative creation of ideas and knowledge. Kim Caise’s book on gamification learning activities is a solid first step in shifting the conversation.”
“In this succinct, fun guide to blending real life with classroom content via gamification, Caise offers a way to restore learning as a fun activity in schools.”