Gaming in education

I’ve just finished reading this press release titled ‘Gartner Says by 2015, More Than 50 Percent of Organizations That Manage Innovation Processes Will Gamify Those Processes‘ by Gartner.

It’s a short article and worth the read itself, but for the sake of this post the article highlights some of the ways that organisations are beginning to use gaming as a method to nurture innovation, collaboration and communication. It also lists four reasons why this form of ‘workplace’ is becoming more successful and I couldn’t help but see the immediate connections to education and the benefits that educational gaming can provide. 

At this point, I want to clarify what I am now (after reading the article) think of gaming. In the past I always thought of gaming as just that, games where educational objectives or inspiration can be drawn from it. Gaming in my mind now is more broad that that. It is any online/computer based environment that provides users with short term and long term objectives in a fun and stimulating way. Often an avatar is representing the end user and rewards are issued for achieving the goals. One perfect example in my mind is http://www.mathletics.com.

Back to the article…

Gartner identified four principal means of driving engagement using gamification:

1. Accelerated feedback cycles. In the real world, feedback loops are slow (e.g., annual performance appraisals) with long periods between milestones. Gamification increases the velocity of feedback loops to maintain engagement.

 

  • Feedback is critical for learning. One teacher in a room of 20+ students simply can’t physically provide the instant feedback to students like games can. Students learn what they know and what they don’t yet know as they progress – not a week later when the learning opportunity has passed.

 

2. Clear goals and rules of play. In the real world, where goals are fuzzy and rules selectively applied, gamification provides clear goals and well-defined rules of play to ensure players feel empowered to achieve goals.

 

  • This to me is a critical element in successful teaching and learning. Students need boundaries, guidelines and limits – but not restrictions. Games can provide the general rules of play in the learning context, but the learning objectives can be changed within those rules.

 

3. A compelling narrative. While real-world activities are rarely compelling, gamification builds a narrative that engages players to participate and achieve the goals of the activity.

 

  • Narratives and story telling have been shown to be very successful in helping students learn and remember their learning. Enough said!

 

4. Tasks that are challenging but achievable. While there is no shortage of challenges in the real world, they tend to be large and long-term. Gamification provides many short-term, achievable goals to maintain engagement.

 

  • Many educationally designed games not only allow teachers to assign appropriate learning objectives to individual students’ needs, but the games themselves then adjust based on the students’ performance. If the student is doing well, the content gets harder and vice versa.

I hope that Gartner are correct in their prediction of the impact of gaming on organisations and companies, because there is no doubt this will help to impact education too.

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iPads for Documenting Student Learning

With anecdotal evidence playing a key role in our early years classrooms, accurate and details notes and record keeping are vital in reporting learning progression back to parents. Our teachers in senior kindergarten are magnificent at keeping detailed observational and conference notes on the students and their learning but tend to spend many hours in keeping these notes. In an attempt to explore options for efficiency in their record keeping, some of the teachers will be using iPads after the break. Below is a list of some apps that I have recommended the teachers explore as possibilities as well as my initial thoughts on the pros and cons of each. If you know of others, please add your thoughts in the comments below.

APPLE APPS

Pages: allows you to input text, photos and/or video and easily format the page layout. Great to create a narrative of sorts for each of the students throughout the UOI. Photo and text documents are relatively easily transferable and printable. Downsides are mostly around the use of videos – the file becomes very large and not well transferable to other computers.

Keynote: similar features to Pages. The difference is in the organisation where each entry would be a new slide instead of having one continuous narrative. Same downsides as Pages.

NOTE TAKING APPS

Notes Proincludes text, video and photo but can’t be transferred from the iPads.

Evernote: includes text, photos and audio as clips within the document. Again, a nice way to create a narrative of each student throughout the unit. You will need a free account with www.evernote.com which the files are automatically synced to, so you can access them from any computer with internet access. Downsides include: can’t resize the photos, so they are quite large on the page, not as easily printed, app is a little ‘clunky’ to use.

Notability: can include text, photos, audio (as one attachment, rather than short clips throughout the document), and drawing/handwriting. Easy to use. Similar benefits to evernote and Pages. Photos can be resized and placed anywhere on the page. Can be emailed as a PDF with the sound recordings attached separately. Easy to print.

BOOK CREATORS

Creative Book Builder(CBB) & eBook Magic: both apps create an ePub book which can be viewed in iBooks on the iPad, iPhone, etc or on other ebook readers. CBB allows video, image and text but is a little more ‘clunky’ to use. eBook Magic is easier to use but doesn’t allow for video – text and photos only.

Life Lessons

Today I came across this post. I love it so much that I wanted to reproduce it here – mostly so that I know where to go to find it next time I want to remind myself of these wonderful words of wisdom:-). Thanks @dcannell for posting this on Twitter. You can find the original post here.

Quoted directly from Teaching & Developing Online

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio

“To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I’ve ever written.
My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:
1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone…
4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first pay cheque.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion,
Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.”