Essential Question: What research can support or refute Matera’s claims?
In Explore Like a Pirate, Michael Matera writes on gamification in the classroom: “Gamification is one of many new and innovative methods that moves us from the old world into the New World. It provides the structure needed to move beyond the regurgitation of memorized content.” Gamification creates challenges for students and gets them excited about learning. Students are already doing this at home, so why not bring it into the classroom?
“By helping them tap into the joy of discovery, we equip them to use a powerful tool that is essential to solving the world’s challenges today. When we inspire students to go beyond what they know and to venture into the unknown, we change the future forever” (Matera, 2015). We have all been there before when we have played a game that we like. We are into the game and enjoying it and don’t want the game to end. We want this for our kids when they are learning. Matera (2015) states, “The power of play brings back the natural yearning that exists inside all of us to learn.”
“As information is constantly produced, consumed, updated, and altered, new practices of reading, writing, thinking, and learning have evolved with it” (Thomas & Brown, 2011). This is where gamification happens. We need to evolve with the times. Thomas & Brown (2011) point out that the 21st century is “about embracing change, not fighting it. Embracing change means looking forward to what will come next.” I think this is the change we teachers need to face. Many are still fighting technology. I think if we embrace the new tools, including gamification, we will see a whole different side of our students. They will be engaged, motivated, challenged, and excited!
“Children use play and imagination as the primary mechanisms for making sense of their new, rapidly evolving world. In other words, as children encounter new places, people, things, and ideas, they use play and imagination to cope with the massive influx of information they receive” (Thomas & Brown, 2011).
Children have been learning through play forever. This is how they get to know the world around them. Now that they spend so much time in virtual realms, it is up to educators to put their gaming skills to work to advance their learning, in the process connecting them to the actual world.
“Games are becoming the number one pastime in America. The average player spends roughly 13 hours a week, with hardcore gamers spending up to 45 hours a week in virtual worlds “(McGonigal, 2011). Gaming works because players can make multiple attempts at the game with low risk of failure or decrease of motivation (Osheim, 2013). Gaming is not a magic switch that will turn the most unappealing task fun. Rather, gamification makes the process better overall. “The three fundamentals of gamification as it pertains to the classroom lay out a general definition: Gamification must consist of high-choice, low-risk, and engagement in a clearly structured environment (Osheim, 2013).
There are many points that favor using gamification in the classroom. Teachers should be looking to use this in our classrooms. We need to look to the future and rapidly changing technology. Most kids are digital natives and are using these at home. We should embrace these technologies and bring them into our classroom. I know I am going to try to embrace more gamification in my classroom. I have ordered 15 Google Cardboards to try out in my classroom. I am excited, because I know the students will be thrilled as well and I know I will see a difference in my students. They will be more engaged, excited, and develop a greater joy for learning.
Matera, M. (2015). Explore like a pirate: Engage, enrich, and elevate your learners with gamification and game-inspired course design. Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. Kindle Edition.
McGonigal, J. (2011). Reality is broken: Why games make us better and how they can change the world. New York, NY: Penguin Press.
Osheim, D.E. (2013). “This could be a game!”: Defining gamification for the classroom. Master’s thesis. http://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=7851&context=etd_theses.
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change (Vol. 219). Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.