Game Based Learning vs. Gamification
Game Based Learning (GBL)- Game based learning involves intentional planning of games with defined learning outcomes which involve active participation, critical thinking, probing of and practicing of real world concepts. Within the context of game based learning, experiences can be enabled that aren’t always possible in real life. Some of the key components of game based learning are that the games used have to have intentionality and are tailored to individual learners.
Gamification- Gamification is the application of game design elements such as the acquisition of points, competition and rules of play to non-game concepts. Some examples of gamification include when you use a promotional App (e.g.- Air Miles, Starbucks) to gather points and "win" free product, when you use a product like "Fitbit" to gain achievement badges, or using Apps like "Class Dojo" to shape desired behaviour.
Both GBL and gamification have some positive implications for the world of education in that they are both hands on, give immediate feedback, encourage perseverance and are engaging for participants. However, from my point of view, GBL has a very distinctive upper hand over gamification. Gamification is reward based (extrinsically motivating) where as GBL is intrinsically motivating. A great analogy I heard in my course was around the concept of "edutainment" where the instructor compared gamification to "chocolate covered broccoli" explaining that by taking the concept of a worksheet and disguising it as a game, gamification makes the proverbial "broccoli" easier to swallow. Since gamification often attempts to make a concept or behaviour that is not likeable more palatable or user friendly, in an education setting this implies both that education isn't fun and that games aren't educational, effectively insulting both education and gaming.
I was also amazed to discover that there is a whole movement around "Gaming for Change" that incorporates concepts of social justice into gaming. For more information, check out the website, Games for Change or this Ted Talk by Jane McGonigal, "Gaming can make a better world".
- During guided activities
- For independent practice as a balanced math or literacy centre. An fun example of a math website based on Ontario content that will be launching in the fall is TVO's mPower.
- On an interactive whiteboard as a whole class modeled activity or as a centre
- As a summative task to capture understanding
- As a provocation activity
- For home practice
- As a "minds on" activity at the beginning of a lesson or unit of study to activate prior knowledge and prepare for new learning, either independently, in small groups or as an entire class
- As a differentiated option for demonstration of knowledge (e.g.- Using Minecraft to build a and label a model of the digestive system v.s. drawing and labeling a picture)
- To intentionally develop and gather information about learning skills and 21st century competencies in conjunction with curriculum content knowledge. Using the concept of "breakout" games from Breakout Edu is one of my favourite ways to do this!
- Really, the possibilities are endless!