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Gamify Education
posted on April 25, 2016


It's hard to believe I never blogged about this before, but I guess to be fair, how to improve education is a complicated subject. (Actually, I have one post somewhat related: HabitRPG - A New Breakthrough in Productivity Systems?) The truth of the matter is education is broken. It is woefully inadequate in preparing a student for a successful career in the modern world.

I listened to a recent episode of a podcast called Ludology. This is episode 126 which is titled "Player One". Though the focus of the episode is about the early days of Atari, it does serve valuable insights into the concept of Gamification of Education. They interview Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese's. He currently offers an educational resource at brainrush.com and is going to start a business summer camp called snap institute. This is suppose to be at snapinstitute.com, but doesn't seem to be working?

The ludology episode can be found here.

One thing he says is that education hasn't progressed much beyond "Aristotle under a fig tree". Also, that we're graduating idiots with racked up student debt. He wants to help fix that.

He discusses 5 principles to help with learning:

  1. It should be active as opposed to passive, involving making decisions or thinking constantly about what was read, watched, etc. One interesting note about this is that by blogging about this podcast episode, I getting more out of it the second time.

  2. Next is spaced repetition. Plow through same material several times.

  3. Play to mastery. One must know 100% of the content before moving on. Students need to be able to progress at their own pace and really learn the material.

  4. Content needs to be learned in context. Make it meaningful. I remember learning matrices in high school. The math teacher would say, "Just trust me, this has application," inducing some rolled eyes from students.

    Multiplying matrices especially seemed weird and random, as if the operation was completely contrived. But later on, at BYU, I learned about computer graphics and was blown away by how powerful matrix multiplication actually is. It is the core of everything! This was the context needed in the first place.

  5. Keep lessons short and snappy. It should be bite size. 1 hour is way too long. They suggest in the episode that when students struggle with ADD, the real problem is "Boring Teacher Syndrome". I think there's something to that.

Here's other points I gleened. They suggest the classroom is obsolete, that the school of the future will have no grades, is mastery based, and everyone progresses at their own speed. The role of the teacher for this future school system is more of a mentor or guide, "not a sage on a stage, but guide on the side". Outcomes should be hidden from peer groups, since this leads to all kinds of self esteem problems in the current system with students believing they're stupid.

Earlier in the episode, as they talked design considerations in early arcade games, Nolan mentions the concept of flow state also known as "being in the zone". This is achieved through being engaged in a task that isn't either too easy, making the task boring or too hard, making it frustrating, but at the right level of difficulty to keep one focused and engaged to the point of losing track of time. (This is where I burst out in laughter, as I now look at the time writing this.)

Ludology also happens to have a short episode about flow state here.

I was also going to blog about insights from this other resource, but this post is getting long now, so that'll do pig, that'll do!

Categories: Inspirational



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