game-based learning and gamification

The project has two angles: game-based learning and gamification. Two totally different beasts, I have come to learn. This is how we hope it comes together in our classrooms.

Wikipedia states that “game based learning (GBL) is a type of game play that has defined learning outcomes. Generally, game based learning is designed to balance subject matter with gameplay and the ability of the player to retain and apply said subject matter to the real world.”

Right now, I’m seeing this as linking specific educational games and apps to curriculum expectations as a facet of the instructional program. This means that students play games so they can learn and so they can practice. Further, I want to use GBL in critical thinking and application: students use what they have learned to navigate through games by making knowledge-based decisions, and they apply what they’ve learned by critically reviewing the game and by designing their own games.

Gamification Wiki states that “gamification typically involves applying game design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging. Gamification has been called one of the most important trends in technology by several industry experts. Gamification can potentially be applied to any industry and almost anything to create fun and engaging experiences, converting users into players.”

In the classroom, learning becomes a set of goals. Once goals are achieved, students earn virtual rewards such as badges, points, virtual coins and the like. Students are proud of their accomplishments being on display, a huge motivator. Plus, they  work harder to achieve the goal to have a badge to display.

In simplistic terms, this is what we see happening in our classrooms in September. Over the summer, as we learn more about these concepts, our view may morph into something entirely different.


the journey begins

Last fall I attended the ECOO12 Conference in Toronto. I was amazed at the wealth of knowledge not only in the session leaders but in the participants as well. I was excited to be there and the vibe was incredible. High interest leads to high engagement in adults too!

One session in particular caught my eye: Gaming in the Classroom, by Oren Grebler. The thought of engaging students with fun activities sounded appealing, a no-brainer really. What kid doesn’t like games? The session was great, and when I came out of there I knew I wanted to try this and take it even further.

Shortly after, I ran into Jared Bennett, one of our tech gurus (in grown-up terms, 21st Century Fluencies Consultant) at HWDSB, who suggested that, along with game-based learning, I might consider gamification in the classroom as well. I’ll be honest, I had no clue what he was talking about.

Returning to school, I spoke with my administrators, Joanne McIntosh and Stephen Yull, who suggested I pursue an application to the TLLP. Dave and Derek joined in and the rest, folks, is history.


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