How do you currently infuse play into your class? How might you change this as a result of some of the ideas you have encountered?
I have used games when teaching as long as I’ve been teaching: Jeopardy, Pictionary, Bingo, Hangman other games (without names) for review. I think there is a lot to be said for teacher enthusiasm, too. What I love about what I teach (languages and computers) is the puzzle of it all: using clues to figure out the bigger picture. This is something I enthusiastically try to pass on to my students. I want my students to know I love what I do and I think that translates into helping them love (or at least not hate) being in my classroom.
Currently, teaching online classes makes using games trickier. I’ve played Jeopardy a few times and used some team building games. Online teaching does present an opportunity to do some things that might be more difficult in a face-to-face class. For example, the structure of my online classes could make it easier to manage students choosing to work on different tasks (or units) at different times.
This week I’ve turned to reading books about gamification in the commercial world. In education we have much less time and money for development than companies who are excited about the money making side of gamification. As an example, Zichermann touts McDonald’s Monopoly game, as one of the most successful and longest-running gamified projects in the customer facing world”(2013, p.9) in 2011 the Monopoly game was responsible for a 5.5% increase in sales for the fast food giant. He points out that, in business anyway, the challenge isn’t to make games, but to “make games work for you”(p. 15). This is the challenge in education, too. I’m thinking of using a Monopoly-type approach (in online Intro to Business Applications), having students fill in their syllabus/assignment schedule which will be arranged more attractively than a simple list. Students could choose their own path to complete units on Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access, in any order they wish.
I’m also experimenting with gamification on the home front. Last Sunday I took my kids on a gamified walk. We had battles and challenges and, perhaps most importantly, a picnic lunch with food. I’m seriously considering a turkey trot over the Thanksgiving break and a Christmas hike with a treasure box hidden at the end.
The game I used in my time management lesson went well, but I needed more time to fully develop the connections with real life. A 30 minute lesson is so short. It would be great to talk about time management a little bit each day over several days and culminate with the game.
My quote for this week is that gamification is like the icing on the cake. If the cake tastes bad, frosting won’t help (Zichermann, 2013 p. 23).
Zichermann, G. & Linder, J. (2013). The gamification revolution: how leaders leverage game mechanics to crush the competition. New York, NY, McGraw-Hill.