Gamification of Learning | Designing Digitally, Inc.

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Original Image replaced. It belonged to Designing Digitally, and although I had linked it to their site, I did not have official permission to use it. They phoned me and yelled at me. They threatened me. I have my own images that I want protected, and would have been happy to take them down, had they asked nicely. They didn’t. They were VERY hot under the collar. After they yelled at me, they hung up on me. Now, I’m no business expert, but I’m pretty sure that’s no way to do business.

A previous post complained about being shut down on several LinkedIn groups because I disagreed with the poster. This is another one. It is quite typical for the kinds of posts seen by companies promising to gamify anything you want.

It makes all the usual claims: gamification makes learning more motivating, engaging, challenging, and fun. Then they go on to mention points, badges, and leaderboards.  Though it may not sound like it, I’m actually a big fan of gamification, but it is important to note that much of it isn’t new at all, and much of what is in fact motivating, engaging, and challenging has roots in sound pedagogy. It bothers me when people make claims they aren’t prepared to back up with research, and it bothers me even more when people attribute something to gamification that is not at all unique to it. I don’t like marketing hype. I like honesty. Apparently the two are mutually exclusive.

Gamification of Learning | Designing Digitally, Inc..

*Note: as this post seems to have prompted Designing Digitally to respond with considerable hostility, I am adding to this post in order to provide the text on which I am commenting.

The article linked above said:

“Experts suggest that challenges should be incorporated into education as a way of engaging learners. Learners who are reluctant might be encouraged to participate by a set of challenges. Utilizing gamification elements in your learning can do a great deal to encourage and engage learners, while challenging them to succeed.”

Here is what I said:

Can you tell us who the experts are that say we should incorporate challenges into learning? Are there any studies that have compared gamified learning interventions with more traditional ones to see if there is any research to back up the claims?

(note: I’m not trying to be difficult; I am genuinely interested in looking up the research.)

I do agree that challenges can increase motivation, but that really has little to do with gamification – it has far more to do with sound instruction.

Other experts* also say gamification is often about regulating behavior, and that the points, badges, leaderboards, and other rewards primarily drive external motivation – which is the opposite of what we actually want in sound learning. The way it is often implemented, gamification is classical behaviorist instruction wrapped in a sexy new name.

I’ve been doing gamification in my courses since long before it was called gamification, and I consult on the design of gamified courses. I find the term convenient for gathering together a host of techniques that, when well thought-out and designed, can create a highly learner-centered environment, but very little of it is actually new, and that which IS new is rarely implemented in either educational OR corporate settings. I see very little that is new in the majority of the marketing literature coming from companies that sell gamification, aside from the name.

*See my gamification pages for some of my peer-reviewed and other publications on the issue here.

Also check out writings and presentations by Sebastian Deterding, Ian Bogost, and Jane McGonigal, among others.

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Gamification of Learning | Designing Digitally, Inc. — 8 Comments

  1. I have on interest in speaking to you or with you about this. you are using a SEO campaign with our company name in your title an your trying to piggy back off of our efforts. This is something I find to be disrespectful, just as you were when you attempted to argue with me over this topic rather than discuss the issue, which is your theft of our copyrighted images you did not provide credit for. We did not give you permission to do any of this, and with that said I don’t have time to deal with someone like you. I have more constructive things to do with my time.

    • I’d rather do this off-line but as you say you have no interest in speaking with me, I’ll do it here.

      I have no interest in SEO. I do not need to ‘piggy back’ off your efforts, and in fact, I do not wish be associated with your company.
      As an academic, you should know that crediting one’s sources is simply proper ethical practice. THAT is why I named your company. I was crediting the source of the claims I was critiquing.

      Commentary and critique is part of what academics DO, and my blog is public. The articles were published in August 2014, so you’ve had 6 months to respond. You have said (several times now) that you don’t wish to talk with me, and that makes it very hard to deal with this in a scholarly manner. I would still welcome a genuine scholarly debate, but this isn’t it.

  2. You are once again violating copyright law by using our images we have purchased in your blog posts. Please remove immediately and refrain from discussing our blog posts on your blog. We have no interest in arguing with someone that steals.

    • Once again. Thanks for the note. Accusing me of stealing isn’t normally a good way to start a conversation like this. Like I said before, if you had been civil over the phone, I would have been very happy to remove the posts. Instead you yelled at me, threatened me, and then hung up on me.

      Wow. Is that how you treat anyone that disagrees with you? I suspect that isn’t the best way to grow your business.

        • Well hello again, Andrew. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the fun of being insulted by you. I realize that it’s normally a bad idea to feed the trolls, but I’m curious as to why you felt the need to insult me today. This post is months old.

          We all know that Wikipedia has many flaws, but to call me ignorant simply because I made use of Wikipedia is spectacularly narrow-minded. You do realize that Wikipedia actually has fewer errors than the Encyclopedia Britannica had? Can you explain to me Andrew how alluding “experts” without ever saying who they are is better than making use of Wikipedia? Are you going to try and tell me that everything on Wikipedia is wrong? At least there articles lacking genuine citations are highlighted. I haven’t noticed that courtesy on your site. Perhaps one day you will figure out how to use Wikipedia and realize that it has become one of the tools that modern researchers use to do their research. The trick, you see, is in knowing enough to be able to assess your sources – ALL of them. This includes unreferenced articles like yours as well as fully cited entries in Wikipedia.

          If you recall my post (or if you scroll up a bit and read for yourself), I asked you who to tell us who your experts are, but far as I can tell, you never did tell us. I’m still interested in finding out.

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