Three or four colleges ago, I was Head of Faculty for Foundation Learning including some very high cost learners over £19k. There, ‘tech’ was invaluable. Large touch screens on sliding frames for easy access, switches, sound, sensory rooms, video camera, DVD, interactive software and wireless connections to enable them to use toasters, the washing machine, see the world, review their day (via video) and reinforce a range of learning on the continuum. Learning became a ‘game’ and an integral part of their lives but that isn’t the real message in ‘gamification’.
F.E. concentrates on the acquisition of skills, passing on of knowledge and experience, to equip our learners for the job market, apprenticeships and university. We take our basic product and bolt ‘tech’ on.
Gamification isn’t a ‘bolt on’; it is the framework around which educational provision grows, like a beanstalk adjusting to the direction of sunlight and prevailing winds. Make no mistake, it is also a business looking for a market. Gamification has been designed for those companies whose markets are shrinking/changing and need to find a new one, quickly; Education.
If we’re going to use tech, then let’s use tech that is useful. Not ‘tech’ for the sake of ticking a box.
It can be used as Starbucks do, via Foursquare to generate loyalty points and a free coffee, the coding site Stack Overflow sets its members tasks and when they complete them, they gain reward stickers. These tasks are free advertising for the host, a raised profile via messages distributed on Twitter and Facebook and a sense of ‘belonging’, a warm fuzzy for the task completer. This is more sophisticated than a Loyalty Card.
Should we be doing this; using Gamification for learner engagement, SMART target setting etc.?
Hand your homework in on time, get a bonus point, get a Distinction earn 10 bonus points, turn up for college every day (on time) 30 points, turn your points into trips, downloads, work experience; differentiated learner rewards based on solid IAG.
As a system it could work so well; motivation is such an important tool with learners and staff – could it, should it (whisper this) become part of the annual appraisal system … ‘Well George, let’s have a look at your points ranking this year, how have your learners rated you?’
Well done George, have 100 bonus points (two extra day’s holiday or one ‘get out of a meeting free’ card).
Extend it into the ‘running FE as a business’ and you can see how questions could be … how has your performance been in terms of Retention … whoops, (attend two extra meetings George).
Gamification is differentiated rewarding / tracking and could be an amazing tool to generate enthusiasm, maintain interest, develop a high profile and track the appeal of a course / lecturer / even a room in a college. Mobile tech, savvy questions, good rewards and the chance to win a prize; who could resist?
Who doesn’t remember the thrill of getting a shiny Gold star on their work and a BIG tick?
Gamification? It’s the new Gold Star.