I have the good fortune of attending the International Society for Technology in Education annual conference in San Antonio this week. Last night, Dr. Jane McGonigal gave the opening keynote to around 6000 of us, and we might have broken a world record for thumb wrestling.
If you have not heard of Dr. McGonigal, you might want to see my previous post about her or go directly to her TED talk. Her studies on the effect of gaming in education are fascinating. In last night’s lecture, she made a good case for how we can utilize the positive aspects of gaming to our advantage in the classroom. She spoke a lot about the importance of engagement in learning, and the fact that our students become less engaged as they move higher in our educational system. Integrating gaming with our lessons could help us to change that. The picture above shows one of her slides on the 10 positive effects of gaming, and I think every teacher would like to see that mirrored in the classroom.
McGonigal’s work is controversial because so many people have pre-conceived notions about gaming. What’s important to note, though, is that you do not have to use actual video games to reproduce their significant qualities. By convincing her entire audience to participate in a massive multiplayer thumb wrestling game for 60 seconds, McGonigal was able to evoke the same emotions. We can do this in our classrooms by emulating the positive characteristics of popular video games – choice, control, collaboration, challenge, problem solving. There are some great educational video games that can be used, but we can also create the type of environment that will have virtually the same effect with less dependence on technology. Whether you choose to use electronics or do it the old-fashioned way, you can “gamify” your classroom and aim to awaken all 10 of the emotions above in every student each and every day.