Thursday, August 9, 2018

#HiveSummit Day Six - Michael Matera & Gamification

Another Hive Summit video, another day of my mind being blown wide open.  Today's talk was with Michael Matera and his daughter Mila, who was interviewing him. They spoke at length about Gamification in the classroom.

The first point that Michael made was that there is a difference between Gamification and Game-Based Learning. Gamification is using elements of games that increase engagement and enjoyment in the curriculum. Game-Based Learning is taking a existing (commercial) game and adding elements into it to make it more educational.

Michael gave many reasons why we schools should adopt gamification: It is naturally student-centred, it is iterative so it allows students to push themselves to become better and it's excited. My favourite thing he said though, had to be this:

I think it's really important that we add game elements to our teaching as well as play elements. I've had many discussions with people about play-based learning lately and I honestly feel that play is really just another word for learning. Gamification clearly falls into the same category. We learn so much, especially with a quick feedback loop which games and play provide, it doesn't make sense that we're not all trying to exploit these amazing ideas.

All of this fit perfectly in my view of what I was going to hear today. Then my mind got blown in the next part. You see, I had thought I knew what gamification is, and certainly I wasn't WRONG in my thinking. But I wasn't thinking big enough. I thought that gamification was playing games in the class. But in some places the game IS the class! That's right, the whole class is pretty much one big game. That's amazing. To be honest, I shouldn't be so shocked. I did read a whole book about a class that kind of did this in the World Peace Game.

So you can imagine that right now, being employed at a school that hasn't opened up yet and having lots of time to plan and work with others to design a whole curriculum and way of teaching, my mind is on overdrive as to how this can be used. I'm honestly incredibly excited.

Michael gives three big tips in the video for anyone wanted to start out:

1) Theme: Choose a theme for your game. This doesn't have to be the topic you're covering, it just has to be how you'll frame the game. You'll need to rename parts of the class to fit the theme. The more elaborate you are, the more interesting it will be for the children.

2) Team: Have the children work in teams. The bonds they make and the skills they learn from this collaboration will be more important that the points they earn. Keep track of points in as simple or as complicated a way as you'd like, but don't tie these points to actual grades and don't take points away that have already been earned.

3) Tasks: Have a lot of these, some required some not. Have side quests that students can complete to earn items in the game which might give them special abilities (eg, getting more points in a review game, being able to get an answer once on a test they don't know, being able to work with a buddy on something, etc). Give badges to show accomplishments as well as experience points (XP).

I honestly plan on having a good look at these ideas and trying to make some sort of a game for the new learners I'm going to have in 2019. In the meantime, I'm going to try to check out Michael's Book (Explore Like a Pirate), his Website of resources and his YouTube Channel:

I am truly inspired by this (and every other talk from the Hive Summit, which Michael has been hosting. I look forward to the last three videos and I imagine I'm going to have a lot of thinking about some amazing things soon.

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