23 November 2011


In his TED talk How Games Make Kids Smarter, Gabe Zichermann enthusiastically explains how the principles of gaming (real world or online) can be applied with stunning results to improving how students do in school. He reports an exponential increase in learning, and an increase in fluid intelligence, when the learning environment encourages you to ~

~ Seek novelty.

~ Challenge yourself.

~ Think creatively.

~ Do things the hard way.

~ Network.

Gamification in its formal sense is "the use of game design techniques and mechanics to solve problems and engage audiences." Techniques such as measuring progress, offering rewards for reaching intermediate goals, and incoroporating competition between scholastic or workplace teams have been used by our more progressive teachers and trainers for a long time. [When I taught high school math and science, subject-related games were a regular and popular feature in my classes, coupled with interdisciplinary learning.] Gamification brings these techniques together in a cohesive, organized focus.

Applications include not only education, but also employee training programs, project management, health care, financial services, and (believe it or not) government. Here is a website (courtesy of my friend Bill) which allows you to scroll through six serious games whose aim is "to train employees, educate the public, or recruit new customers." Check out each title to get an idea of the diversity of applications for gaming. It's not just for kids anymore.

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