Rewards are the real key behind the future gamification of learning

Having just watched Tom Chatfield explain the 7 ways that games reward the brain I am amazed at the Mathematics behind it all. It’s just so obvious and I should have twigged, even my wife who works for an online shopping company is always raving about how much “data” they have. Absolutely everything and anything can be measured, I mean it’s really all just about zeros and ones.

So why didn’t Education think of it sooner?

Instead of us all, yes we’re all guilty at some point, saying “I wish those kids would stop playing video games and go outside and run around”, we should have been observing their behaviour and asking the question – why are those games so engaging?
As Tom Chatfield explains, by studying the behaviour of gamers we can learn something about learning. So what is there to learn?

Well as a part the closed beta test for 3D GameLab I’m gaining valuable feedback on how to design quests for gaming.  It just so happens that this afternoon I was discussing my quest group with a fellow gamer (secretly a teacher!) who had been testing my quests. What he told me just made so much sense, here are some of the tips + a few others in reference to what Chatfield said:

  1. Start with easy quests, keep it linear, nothing too long, nothing too hard, simple, achievable targets (like find a pie in a box, or some number between 5-20).
  2. Keep these easy quests coming and give good solid rewards that motivate them to continue (like the 25% chance of finding a pie – give them a special reward after every 4 quests).
  3. Slowly begin increasing the difficulty and time required, just enough so that they will put the effort in because it is worth it and they are already invested in achieving a milestone. (Perhaps it’s a rank or a bonus prize).
  4. Then have some easier quests again (like the 75% chance of finding a pie).  So they make it too their goal motivated to keep going.
  5. Design collaborative quests such that they cannot complete them unless they work with others (the key factor!).

Now put these factors together and add elements like a progress bar and an incredible teacher who knows how to use game-based learning in a blended learning environment and I think we’ll see improved engagement and outcomes.  It’s what I plan to do, and something like 3D GameLab looks like one of the first tools that could help me do it.


One thought on “Rewards are the real key behind the future gamification of learning

  1. Thoughts about gamifying educational systems is of course a hot topic and has been for a long time. 3D Gamelab is, i think, a great approach towards a new kind of engaging learning and should be regarded as such. However, considering the title of this post naming rewards as “the real key” behind gamifying learning, there are major problems with this.
    While Chatfield does in deed give some interesting points in his TED Talk, look at the talk of Daniel Pink, who states that adding rewards effectively slows progression and narrows the focus of thinking for possible solution down to an absolut minimum, or presentations by Johannes Deterding and game legend Richard Bartle on Gamification.
    I see the approach of “rewards are the key” a major problem in todays gamification experiments, because it must be said that truly they are not. The discussion about extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, with extrinsic quickly replacing intrinsic motivation when used on an intrinsic system, ist just one major point of the problem.
    Do we really want to make our children crave for rewards in order to do things? Do we not, in a kind of way, limit them by giving them tasks and quests to complete and advance through, rather than helping them to progess? At the very least we limit their creative abilites to solve problems in their own ways, by giving them pre-constructed challenges and rewarding their success, as Daniel Pink points out.

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