Portnow says, “If we’re interested in something, we’ll have an easy time learning it. The problem with the educational approach is that it tries to jazz up a topic we just don’t care about, rather than trying to get us engaged in a topic and care about it in a personal way. But video games have a huge advantage here. We inherently care about what we’re doing when we play games. The enthusiasm is already there. The game designer just has to channel it.” This quote is especially powerful to me because the teacher is essentially the game designer. Our biggest challenge in the classroom every day is getting kids to care about what we’re learning and engage with content in a meaningful way. Portnow goes on to say that the whole idea of effective game design is “Enhancing the experience without getting in the way of the fun…Games, above all, should be fun.” I think many educators – particularly administrators – would argue that the content should be front and center at all times, which conflicts with Portnow’s points of view. Perhaps that is the value of teacher-trailblazers; they have the job of challenging traditional thought.
As I continue to refine my understanding of gamification, I have questions that require further exploration. Pressing questions for me include the following:
- How can we effectively design our classrooms to provide epic meaning? Do we include an overarching narrative story?
- How can we keep content front and center when fun is the foundation of gaming?
- How do we choose the best tools to gamify our curriculum and what are some of the suites of tools that other educators utilize?