Rando Post No. 2

A few weeks ago, I complained about e-learning days.  I had another one a few days later.  It was also horrible.  But, as it did last time, my Econ homework was nice.

I happen to like my Economy class teacher (the teacher of my Economy class, not the cheapest available teacher).  Her homework is classically good for actually learning, not just review or whatnot.  This time was no different – if not for the reasons she meant for it to be.

The homework was to make an account on Khan Academy, watch three specific videos, and take notes on them.

That seems like a pretty pedestrian assignment, and it was.  BUT.  While I did learn a little about economy, I learned a lot about gameification.

I first heard about the idea from this video by Extra Credits.  Basically, the idea is to make education less horribly boring by introducing some of the mechanics that make games fun.  This is a very delicate task, for the education cannot go out of its way to be fun, but it also can’t be boring. (More on this further down.)

Khan Academy has a point system and some surprisingly unique rewards, especially if you are linked to a teacher (or anyone else who can be called coach, except Coach Z).  Every account has an avatar.  When I learned of that, I thought “Uuughghh.”  So, I chose the first one on the list, and the first variant.  Then I went to the videos.

Well.

When the video finished, the page displayed an image of a cute thing with a hat, saying “Onward!” It also said that I had earned 750 points for watching the video, and 100 for finishing it, for a total of 850.  Okay.  But then, midway through the second video, something in the corner of the screen caught my eye; it was some sort of notification.  I had earned a “medallion” or something, I can’t remember the name.  Suddenly, things are about to get

compelling.

<tangent>

I sometimes assign arbitrary point values to things to get people to do what I want.  There is no reward, but people want the points anyway, so it still works.  I’ve even gotten someone to correctly pronounce “Chipotle.”  Now that’s a noteworthy feat.

</tangent>

I was compelled enough, (and in support of this idea enough,) that I didn’t stop at the three, but finished the set of five.  Then I changed my avatar to something cuter cooler.  I have half a mind to continue doing more stuff just for more points!

Why?  Well remember when I said it had some unique rewards?  Well, your teacher can see how many points and whatnots you have, and the more you have the cooler you look, and the cuter cooler your avatar gets.  So it lets you show off to your teachers, which very few students ever willingly do.

This is what they were talking about!  Just because it’s incentivized doesn’t mean it’s ineffective.  A lot of older teachers say gameification is a stupid idea, but the way education is right now, as far as student experience goes, is mediochre at best.  If learning were associated with something other than pain and misery, people might actually enjoy school.

I actually started writing this post about a week after the first rando post.  Since then, I’ve found another idea.  Essentially, learning itself is basically game-ready.  Rather than adding game like qualities, one could just figure out how to make the  subject matter itself compelling.  I really like this idea, even better than the one I just spewed out several paragraphs on.  Read more about that here.

I want to keep going, but I’ve been going for a while already.  I may revisit this topic again if it ever comes up again.  Also, I plan on adding a couple of links to the things I mentioned here.  They’re pretty interesting.