Game Theory Learning Ideas in Education

I was intrigued this summer by the theory of the gamification of learning. Picked this idea up from my PLN on twitter of course! I interpreted this as; trying to turn our learning into a game like ideas and scenarios by offering rewards kids could earn for various tasks they completed throughout the year. You could even go as far as having a leader board and rewarding those who hit benchmarks and preset point levels throughout the year. These ideas are based of some of the video games people play and the motivation to move up the ranks for a number of reasons.

In my experience I would compare it to video games like Halo and The Call of Duty Franchise. Where you have global leaderboards to signify accomplishments. There are also in game achievements which seem to keep people going, from unlocking weapons, armor, secrets, etc the desire to achieve these goals is rewarded with an upgrade or new feature you don’t have already. They flat out work people play these games for hours on end to unlock some feature or new doohicky they didn’t have before. So how do we apply this to education and beyond?

I read an article in Wired this summer that described a company that worked along the same theoretical idea. I can’t find the article but I will try. The premise of the company is that people list tasks online that they can’t do or don’t want to do and offer what they think is a fair wage for someone to complete the task for you. The people who work for this company see the offers and claim them when they go live. Then once the task has been completed the person who posted it and the person who completed it confirm it finished and the person who completed it receives points based on how many tasks they complete. There is a leaderboard posted on a website and they competed to complete the most tasks. The workers interviewed said they got a kick out completeing tasks, carrots I think they were called in the article and moved up in rank. I wish i had it to look at , because I think the more you move up your compensation or status in the company improves.

So this got my wheels spinning. How could I apply this to my classroom and what would it look like. I looked at my curriculum and started to think. I came up with the idea of creating a set of class trading cards which the students would try and acquire from each other for some semester long project. The cards were based on ideas, people and documents based in American History. The purpose of the game is to collect a certain number of cards in each category to receive a certain number of points. Collecting all the cards in each category would be difficult so getting 7 out of 10 will get you something like 100 points. List of cards and point totals here. The kids will input their names next to the cards they have so the whole class can keep track. This is a google doc and they all have access to edit it via their gmail accounts. There are some rules when it came to creating the cards and also trading them. Rules The students can exchange, barter, trade the cards in any way they see fit except gambling over them. We did some class activities already where they winners got to choose the card they wanted to build their collection. I try to do an activity a week where they cards are involved as trading piece or in the lesson to keep them fresh in their minds. Some of the boys put their cards in their wallets so they would bring them to class everyday.

I am trying to come up with some more interesting ways to use these game theories and ideas in my classes with turning in assignments and grades, but I can’t violate FERPA laws as I post information online. I think the idea has traction and in my digital graphics and webmastering classes I am going to start some type of student dropbox with a tool like when they submit designs and projects that exhibit skills and theories taught in class that they applied outside of class. I would also post these on something like posterous to showcase their work. I think this has huge implications for education and would like to hear ways you use it or idea you might have in the comments. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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