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Education Gamification in Action
There’s a lot of potential in the field of Education Gamification. I believe that humans have an innate Desire to learn. However, much of the school system these days “gets in the way of our education.”
If you ask children, “What is work?” They will say, “School and homework!!” But if you ask them, “What is play?” Many of them will say, “Video/games!!”
Clearly there should be a way to help kids learn from what they do best – play. This is why many educators are looking into a variety of new tools and techniques in Education Gamification.
No longer viewed as a mundane process for presenting information while testing for retention and understanding, the modern educational challenge involves tasks of engaging students, stimulating their interests, retaining their attention, and maintaining a positive attitude in a nurturing environment.
Key to these goals is the effort to maintain a rich communications environment that encourages feedback and reinforcement, not only between the instructor/teacher and students, but also between the students themselves. These socially interactive mechanisms, with the proper level of control for encouragement and discipline, can be designed in effective ways to create “fun” learning situations. The following examples reveal a number of ingenious approaches for not only improving the learning process, but also producing more effective educational environments.
Education Gamification Example #1 – DuoLingo:Learn a language while translating the Web
Duolingo is a massive online collaboration which combines a free language-learning website with a paid crowdsourced text translation platform. The service is designed so that students can learn a given language online, while helping to translate websites and documents. Beginners start out with basic, simple sentences from the web, while advanced users receive more complex sentences. As one progresses, so does the complexity of the sentences they are asked to translate.
In each case Duolingo provides the learning and translation tools to help the student to properly understand and memorize the words that they encounter. Each student can also vote on the quality of the other students’ translations, providing valuable feedback for comprehension and learning. The top rated translations for each sentence are made available for public viewing and collection.
As students learn a language, they earn skill points when lessons are completed or web content is translated. Lessons associated with a skill are successively completed when a give number of translations are completed. Since web content is inherently more interesting than “made up” sentences, the translation assignments are more engaging.
The site also includes time-based elements, such as skill points and time bonuses when questions are answered correctly within a given time limit. Incorrect answers result in a loss of points and “lives”, as well as the delay of leveling up. Since the system is adaptive, it tracks each completed lesson, translation, test, and practice session to provide feedback to the student and plan future lessons and translation assignments to better address their needs. All this adds up to a great Education Gamification experience.
Education Gamification Example #2 – Ribbon Hero: Epic game that teaches you how to use Microsoft Office
Ribbon Hero is an add-in game, available as a free Microsoft download, to help educate users of Office 2007 and 2010 on how to use the tools available in the new ribbon interface. Wow, what a creative use of Education Gamification!
Once installed, the game can easily be initiated from any of the key Office programs, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Once in the game, the user (player) is presented with challenges which can yield points if completed.
The challenges are grouped into four sections: text manipulation, page design and layout, artistic presentation, and a more generalized quick points section. With the first three sections, each challenge is designed to introduce users to a key feature and have them edit a sample document using that feature. The quick points section doesn’t offer specific challenges, but lists features instead, which can be used outside the game to accumulate points. Half of all available points can be earned through the game challenges offered in the first three sections, while the remaining points must be earned from implementing the same features outside of the game.
Microsoft has taken great care in designing the challenges by creating short, relevant tasks and providing immediate feedback and reinforcement to help keep the user engaged and interested. Also, by keeping the the difficulty level manageable, yet challenging, and providing enough support to insure reasonable success, the game encourages further play and development of Office skills.
Another feature of Ribbon Hero is it’s ability to track the progress of the user in learning to use the Office features and tools, and adjust the challenges accordingly. Not only by following the game progress, but by monitoring the features used outside of the game. The game can then adjust the order of training content to ensure that users see only features and tools that they haven’t seen before.
Because Ribbon Hero can link to Facebook, each player can share their scores and compare their progress with friends on Facebook who also play the game. In essence, Ribbon Hero is a software tutorial within a game that can be socially connected. This is one of the best corporate education gamification examples out there.
Note: Ribbon Hero was followed by the sequel, Ribbon Hero 2: Clippy’s Second Chance. This sequel adds a time travel element to the original game, where the user can follow the in game hero, Clippy, into different periods in time. The featured periods are Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the 1960’s, and the future. In each case there are several Office-based tasks that must be completed before a move to the next period can be made.