Here are two images I generated from some recent Sketchnote activities. These images are inspired by some initial readings from a great article by Kristen Bourgault about Gamification in Education, from the Digital Pedagog site. I borrowed my wife’s iPad and used the Bamboo Paper app, because I could send it directly to Evernote.
My goal was relatively simple: I wanted to capture the essence of what Kristen was saying because that commentary seemed pretty fundamental. While I am working on a game-based interaction at work right now, I came into the project well after the ID work was completed, so I’m doing a retroactive Lessons Learned with a view to future planning. It was a very quick exercise, and I’ve added some notes to the images.This first image represents the basic elements – what Jane McGonigal calls “defining traits” – of any game. First, it needs a Goal (I think it’s safe to say that the goal should be clearly articulated). Second, the game has to have rules. I’m of two minds about the rules. There are basic rules that should be available to the participant (player) and there may be some “rules” or “success conditions” that the player can discover through the gameplay. Third, the player needs feedback. I can envision feedback coming in multiple forms, whether auditory, text, or even consequential. This last type of feedback I find valuable, because while things like audio can represent “immediate” feedback, I feel there’s a more powerful impact of seeing the consequences of one’s actions when they stem from a series of decisions; particularly if those results challenge a strongly-held perception about expected outcomes. The last point is a simple one, but with deeper implications; participation has to be voluntary. While my observations may be anecdotal, I know that I’ve never enjoyed being forced or mandated to play any particular game. Any game I chose to explore on my own left me with far more control over the situation, especially if I achieved some successes along the way.
This image goes a little deeper into Bourgault’s thoughts on educational games. The game has to have a strong narrative. You can think of this as a storyline. As I take that concept a little further, I think of ideas like character development, story arcs, plot, settings, etc. I’m making some connections between this idea and what Robin Yap spoke about at CSTD 2010 where he spoke about continuity of character avatars and their ‘career progression’. I’ve illustrated this concept as a Script because most film/media narratives have a script as their foundation. Bourgault also warns about the “Badge Trap”. While achievements and other things help note your progress through games, she quotes Margaret Robinson’s advice, which says,
“What we’re currently terming gamification is in fact the process of taking that thing that is least essential to games and representing it as the core of the experience. Points and badges have no closer a relationship to games than they do to websites and fitness apps and loyalty cards. They’re great tools for communicating progress and acknowledging effort, but neither points nor badges in any way constitute a game.”
Finally, where I see a difference between sitting down with a game console and leveraging game-based activities in learning is about coaching and support opportunities. A well-designed learning program blends divergent and convergent activities along the learning path. I see this as a critical element in supporting self-directed learning where there are multiple learners involved, or when the content is sufficiently complex. The learner can re-engage with a coach or SME, and also with peers to continue the more social aspects of knowledge sharing. I interpret this guidance as saying “continuous play may be less effective in achieving desired outcomes when compared with structured play and intervals of coaching and reinforcement.”
All in all, this was an enjoyable exercise in working on my Sketchnoting skills, while making some basic interpretations of a very interesting topic. I definitely want to share more of these.