The Learning Technology Team gained some insight recently into the world of games-based learning and gamification (the application of game elements to non-game tasks) at an event held at Senate House on 4th March 2015. The team learned a lot about using rewards and technology to enhance motivation and how to avoid some of the pitfalls associated with gamification.
The event, hosted by the Centre for Distance Learning (CDE), had a variety of attendees contributing to the day, including learning technologists, administrators, games developers, and academics, which created an interesting and diverse environment to discuss the use of games and gamification as learning tools.
The team learned that playfulness should be part of most games, but also that gamifying mundane tasks does not usually make them more fun. Additionally, careful addition of achievements and measures of progress can motivate some users, but others will respond very differently to the same incentives. Appealing to the variety of user types is a challenge that games designers, teachers, and learning technologists all have in common.
The day included some very fun elements, including playing with everyday objects to demonstrate creativity in games, a quiz using Kahoot (which UOLIA-LTT member Stephen Ogden won), and the opportunity to play some games over lunchtime. Attendees were also asked to team up with others throughout the day to design an educational game using a number of key elements. Each person was given a card with an element on and form a team including four different element types. UOLIA-LTT members Stephen, Larisa, and Nic, teamed up with Pete Jenkins (a gamification consultant and entrepreneur at University of Brighton) and were given the following elements to include in their game:
- Numeracy (Learning objective)
- P.S. (Technology)
- Sabotage (Game mechanic)
- Dinosaurs (Game theme)
The team worked tirelessly through coffee breaks and were able to put the elements together to create the game ‘Sabotaurus!’. The day ended on a highlight when the winners of the game design competition turned out to Stephen, Larisa, Nic, and Pete. Their reward was the respect from the fellow attendees and a tabletop game of their choice.
Overall, the day included playfulness, goals, and recognition of achievement, but also knew knowledge – which demonstrates nicely some of the key principles of gamification for learning.