An article about how a “gamified” interface to campus life is supposed to help low-income students (can you tell I’m skeptical?).
Here’s what they do:
- Give out points and badges for doing stuff.
- Reward competing against their fellow students to earn more points (which they can trade for stuff at Starbucks & the bookstore).
Here are their goals:
to make sure low-income students — many of whom are the first in their families to go to college — are aware of the dozens of opportunities on campus.
Here are my problems with this approach:
- Superficial reward-driven gamification produces effects that don’t last.
- Monetizing engagement does not normally lead to genuine engagement.
- External motivators tend to be counter-productive.
- I’m pretty sure that low-income students already feel singled out. Do you really want to add to that?
- They are rewarding students for competing against each other when what they really should be doing is creating community.
- This emphasizes winning over caring.
Last year, the average student won less than $100 worth of coffee and bookstore items, and the top earner nearly $200.
Hmmmm. “Less than $100.00” I wonder how much less?
When the app officially debuted last fall after a pilot run in 2013, getting students to buy in wasn’t a problem, Mr. Huer says. About half of the Pell Grant population at Ball State eventually downloaded it. In fact, some students were too enthusiastic for the app’s original design. “There were a few students last year who went through every achievement in the first week,” Mr. Huer says.
I’d love to see some more detailed results. I don’t see 1/2 as a good number.