Gamification of Learning

I have been thinking quite a bit and been having conversations with a few people recently about how most organized learning and teaching is really not optimized for students.  I love learning new things.  It’s why I’m in innovation and like to work around really smart people with very diverse viewpoints…and yet I really don’t look forward to any of the formal training programs I am forced to go through.  I watch my kids and see this all the time.  Trying to get them to do their homework is like pulling teeth, and yet they can tell you how to build just about anything in their latest gaming passion: Minecraft.

People do make learning games.  And there are simulators that people use in engineering and business schools I know for running businesses and for designing competitions.  There is software that teaches kids to read.  There’s even software that teaches language, including games as a part of the process.  It seems though, that each of these is a custom design that requires big groups of people with various skills to be coordinated in a large project where the product is a single learning experience.  If you need to teach something else you go write another piece of software.

Why is it that we can’t more easily harness the fun and ability of gaming into learning for both ourselves and our kids?

Gamification is a growing trend. Everyone’s looking for ways to gamify their platform or business, and we know that very well from our new ng Connect member Gamify.  I’ve been reading recently about some of the different gamification uses including the solar panel company SunPower who created a Facebook contest to educate people about solar energy and Google who is adding Google News badges to help grow their business in Google News.  So why hasn’t the gaming trend been more widely adopted in education and learning?

I think part of the answer is that there is a disconnect between the people whose expertise is in generating content for learning and the people whose expertise is in creating a compelling experience (i.e. games).  There should be some kind of middleware that connects up the content generators on one side and the game designers on the other.  Perhaps education companies could hire full-time game developers?  Or company’s training courses could integrate a gaming element into their courses?

What are your thoughts on how to make this happen?  Do you think gamifying education and learning is the right step?

Jason Collins


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