Why a blog on gamification?

About a  year ago I was watching my toddler play Temple Run on my phone and I was amazed at her tenacity. She would not get very far but she would restart every time, doing it over and over. The amazing thing was that as I was watching I could see her skills improve little by little. This little person who barely understood the concept of the game was completely hooked and would not accept defeat. Fast forward a year and now my 4 year old makes me look like a beginner.

At the time I was thinking it would be amazing if I could get my students to approach their learning in the same way and that is when the light bulb moment hit…what if you could apply the same techniques games use to keep you hooked in learning! 

Alas, once I started doing research I found that I was by no stretch of the imagination being innovative. The idea of gamification has been around for decades and there is an abundance of research done on various aspects of the concept. At least that meant the hard work was done..right?

Not exactly.

There are books and a lifetime worth of research reading available on gamification. Some of them focus on specific studies that show how it works to motiviate and enhance learning and others delve into the concept to explain what the aspects of gamification are and how they can be applied. This was great for gaining and understanding of what can be done with gamification but I realised quickly it is one thing to tell someone you need to design badges and  quite another thing to show them how to actually do create a decent one.

As the person in the classroom I was left with the question every time, “but how?”.

If I need a game board for my lesson, how do I make it?

If I need cards or badges with specific information, how do I make it?

If I need a dynamic, online scoreboard, how do I make it?

As a trainer and teacher of graphic software applications I had a head start but it took a lot of experimentation to find what worked best and what software was most appropriate for the various situations.

This problem of practical application was put in the spotlight again in the last few months after I took a position as Principal at an academy and started introducing what I had learned to the other lecturers. There has been a lot of interest and commitment from most but they ran into the same problem and I find most of them giving up after a few weeks due to the frustration of failing to create the required media. When someone gives up on an idea due to lack of tools or skill to use those tools is something I always find heartbreaking. I have seen it with my design students and was seeing it now again with the lecturers.

Once I started training some of them it quickly became obvious how much deeper the training needs to go beyond just what each button does. One tends to take for granted how many hours of experimentation it took to create the workflows that is now second nature to you.

That is why I created this blog. I have done all the research and experimentation and there is no need for you to go through the frustration. At no point should you be afraid to do your own experimentation and research but hopefully I can give you the head start you need to at least have the confidence to do so.

I hope this will be the shortcut you need to enhance your teaching and experience the amazing results I have seen.

Teaching is hard enough and life long learning is critical, we may as well make it fun.



Quintus Smit