Gamifying Education

English: Teen Patti Game Play 1Video Games and Learning*, a video viewing assignment for EdTech 532, provides some key ideas for utilizing engagement and enthusiasm brought from game play into learning. Among the ideas presented, I think the following are important to keep in mind when designing educational activities, games or not.

  1. In general, people learn with greater ease when they are engaged. Think about the topics you are interested in. You probably remember facts that would bore with friends. And these facts were easier to remember than the 50 state capitals (unless, of course, state capitals are your thing). Educational activities need to provide a hook, something that captures student interest and makes them WANT to know more.
  2. When we are playing a game, it feels like a huge detour if we have to stop and “learn” something. Learning opportunities can be built into a game almost seamlessly so it doesn’t feel like we are being beaten over the head with a lesson. DimensionM

    is a game that requires detours. I honestly don’t understand the success of this game when fun, virtual world, game play is interrupted by a multiple-choice question.

  3. Tangential learning was one of the biggest points made in this video. We learn tangentially when our interest is piqued by something in a game and we choose to find out more about it. This IS a great way to learn, but it isn’t something an educator can bank on. Some, but not all, students will make the choice to self-educate. Some will find a factoid in a game interesting enough to find out more about it. Educators are required to meet set standards and can’t build activities on the hope that students will self-educate. This is a great idea for inclusion in all games. It’s just not reliable enough for educational products.

There is much the world of educational games can learn from standard, off-the-shelf games (both digital and non-digital). The gaming elements that are appropriate, suitable, and improve the learning opportunity all depend on the activity. As I learn more about gaming elements, I will gain a better understanding of where and when to use gaming elements for their greatest effect.


HUGE Disclaimer

*If you are a reader of my blog, you know that I always provide links to the videos, articles, or websites I write about. I am purposefully not including the link to this video because I believe the creator used images without permission. There’s a small chance that I am wrong. The reason I believe this to be true is because I work for a company who went through the process of gaining permission for one of the images used and I know that we had to provide attribution, in addition to paying a large sum of money. No attribution is included in this video.

Too often people feel that sharing images on the web falls under the “personal use” clause of the copyright law. With the type of distribution available via YouTube, this avenue of sharing goes well beyond “personal use”. Awareness and understanding of copyright and ownership needs to be improved across digital channels, especially in education, as opportunities for sharing (eg. via iBooks Author) increase.


AECT Standards

1.1  Instructional Systems Design–It is important to keep in mind elements such as those utilized in games to improve the engagement factor of instructional systems. Engaging a student is half the battle. If you can’t engage a student, you have lost the chance at helping that student learn. Sure, students can get by without interest. I know I did throughout most of my history courses. I could get an average score by memorizing things long enough to take a test, but what I still remember today aren’t those facts. What I remember is the stories my American History teacher told that brought history to life. I was engaged in his class because of these stories, and my ability to recall facts from that class proves to me that engagement is what I needed to deeply learn.

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Elements of Educational Technology

Educational technology classifiedTechnology is ever expanding. Each year brings us new tools and gadgets and formats. As technology changes, the definition of educational technology expands to accommodate new options.

The current definition of “educational technology” by the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) is shown below.

Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.

When I consider educational technology tools to use in the classroom, what I want to know first is if the tool improves student learning. I have seen time and money wasted chasing after the latest technological advancement only to discover that student learning was not effected, or worse, student learning declined.

As our society has become more technologically advanced, we have expanded student learning goals. For example, skills I did not learn until college are now introduced in basic algebra classes. In order to meet this demand, our teaching must become more efficient. Technology is one means we can capitalize on to increase efficiency.

Wordle Image of "Improving"

The AECT has written a more thorough explanation for each of the key words in their definition of educational technology. Taking their commentary for how “improving” is key in educational technology, I created the Wordle image to the right. This image graphically shows the top 50 words used. The larger the word, the more often it appeared. Notice what stands out. “Goals” and “learning” are most obvious. The next levels down include “efficiency,” “efficient,” “claim,” and “time.”

From this image and my reading, I take away the following. For educational technology to improve learning, the technological tool must help students meet learning goals efficiently. This increase in efficiency should decrease the time needed to master a skill or objective. And before a tool is used in the classroom, claims related to learning improvement must be backed by better results and better student application of a skill or objective in the real world.

Januszewski , A. (2007). Educational technology: a definition with commentary. New York, NY: Routledge.

Wordle image created at

Technology graphic made by dougbelshaw on Flickr.

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