Welcome to today’s stop on Karl Kapp’s Gamification book tour. In The Gamification of Learning and Instruction, Karl effectively cuts through the hype about gaming and lays out strategies that can allow learning professionals to understand how to use the power of games to improve learning.
Gamification is quite simply the act of “adding game elements, game theory,and game mechanics to learning content.” Far from being just a way to dress up an instructional approach or make it fun, applying game concepts can indeed improve both learning and application.
Here are some of the things you might learn from the book:
What people mean when they talk about “gamification” – the factors that transform engaging learning into game play:
It’s always important for us to have a clear understanding of emerging techniques in our field. Our clients are hearing about the importance of learning games from the business press, and they likely have opinions ranging from extreme enthusiasm to dismissiveness. While the characteristics that Karl lists here are quite familiar to those of us who have been dedicated to making learning engaging in all its forms, Karl explains how these elements combine to create effective games.
The evidence regarding whether games are effective, or more effective than traditional approaches to learning and instruction:
As you know, I am a huge fan of linking research to practice. Karl does a great job laying out the theory that explains how games work to motivate learners and improve learning outcomes, and he summarizes the research that demonstrates that game play produces important results. Studying these sections of the book will put you in a much better position to discuss your recommendations with both reluctant and overenthusiastic clients. These sections, for me, really underscore that designing effective game interactions is indeed serious business that requires careful thought along with a sense of fun. With this background, you’ll be better able to explain what each feature of your game design accomplishes and be better able to advocate for key characteristics that ensure the outcomes you want.
The kinds of learning challenges that are best addressed by games:
While games don’t have to be complicated, most of what we think about when considering a game strategy requires quite an investment in time and effort to design and develop. It’s helpful to understand a bit more which types of learning goals can be effectively addressed through gaming techniques. Karl lays out some specific recommendations for applying gamification to different types of knowledge (declarative, conceptual, rules-based, and procedural) and learning domains (cognitive, affective, psychomotor).
The process for designing a game:
As new instructional techniques come into use, they challenge the traditional processes we have for designing, developing and delivering learning, and they change the roles that need to be played. Karl describes some of the implications for design processes and design teams, launching from the traditional ADDIE model along with the emerging scrum or Agile methodologies.
The book contains much more than just these sections, of course, and it contains plenty of examples which bring the concepts to life. As such, it’s a valuable resource for design ideas even if your goal is to include some game elements without actually designing a game-based activity. In addition to providing advice on what to do, Karl also has some cautions regarding the issues that may be created if we incorporate some elements without incorporating others, or don’t pay careful attention to how certain elements are used.
In all, then, The Gamification of Learning and Instruction is a terrific addition to your bookshelf; I highly recommend it. Nice job, Karl!