I talked yesterday about how some concepts may not resonate immediately, and need to continue to be raised until the context is right. There I was talking about explorability and my own experience with service science, but it occurred to me that the same may be true of games.
Now, I’ve been pushing games as a vehicle for learning for a long time, well before my book came out on the topic. I strongly believe that next to mentored live practice (which doesn’t scale well), (serious) games are the next best learning opportunity. The reasons are strong:
- safe practice: learners can make mistakes without real consequences (tho’ world-based ones can play out)
- contextualized practice (and feedback): learning works better in context rather than on abstract problems
- sufficient practice: a game engine can give essentially infinite replay
- adaptive practice: the game can get more difficult to develop the learner to the necessary level
- meaningful practice: we can choose the world and story to be relevant and interesting to learners
the list goes on. Pretty much all the principles of the Serious eLearning Manifesto are addressed in games.
Now, I and others (Gee, Aldrich, Shaffer, again the list goes on) have touted this for years. Yet we haven’t seen as much progress as we could and should. It seemed like there was a resurgence around 2009-2010, but then it seemed to go quiet again. And now, with Karl Kapp’s Gamification book and the rise of interest in gamification, we have yet another wave of interest.
Now, I’m not a fan of the extrinsic gamification, but it appears there’s a growing awareness of the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic. And I’m seeing more use of games to develop understanding in at least K12 circles. Hopefully, the awareness will arise in higher ed and corp too.
As some fear, it’s too costly, but my response is twofold:
- games aren’t as expensive as you fear; there are lots of opportunities for games in lower price ranges (e.g. $100K), don’t buy into the $1M and up mentality
- they’re actually likely to be effective (as part of a complete learning experience), compared to many if not most of the things being done in learning
So I hope we might finally go beyond Clicky Clicky Bling Bling, (tarted quiz shows, cheesy videos and more) and get to interaction that actually leads to change. Here’s hoping!