Learning + Video Games ≠ Gamification

For a while now I’ve downplayed the current trendiness of Gamification in learning. I couldn’t exactly put my finger on why, but there are a few ideas buzzing around my head. At times I’m put off by the heavy reliance on replacing one form of extrinsic motivation (gold stars, points, etc.) with another (achievements, points, etc.). Quite often it’s the oversimplification of game design and instructional design theories, leading many teachers to just turn learning into a cheap facsimile of a game (which has its advantages and disadvantages). By far the critique that comes to the surface most often is the desire for teachers to cling to what’s popular, rather than step back and look at the roots of what makes games, video or otherwise, so attractive as analogies and vehicles for effective instructional practice and design.

And then comes along James Paul Gee and makes everything so clear; it’s not about turning learning into a video game, it’s taking excellent video game design elements and structure that parallel effective learning principles, and then making sure those learning principles are replicated within our teaching and learning environments. It’s not about the regurgitation of facts, information, and concepts; it’s about the internalization of information, transference to new problems, and creation of new understandings as learners create situated meaning; deep understandings that are tied to individual experiences, ensuring that concepts are tied to important failures, successes, and struggles, not tied to the answer glossary at the back of the text book.

Preach, on Mr. Gee, preach on!

image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dimic-/5033993643/