Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: The Book Tour Continues

Dr. Karl Kapp has written a new book titled The Gamification of Learning and Instruction.  And it's a great pleasure to be asked by Karl to review the book for his blog book tour.  I don't consider myself a good book reviewer but I enjoy being part of the tour and appreciate him trusting in my ability.

Let me start by saying that I sort of rolled my eyes when I heard there was a book being written on gamification.  It just felt too early.  The term is barely understandable by those who use it regularly, and even less so by those who aren't "into it".

After reading the book I can honestly say that now is the perfect time for this book.  It's a perfect time for the book because the book is good...really good.  Kapp's understanding of instructional design and interest in gaming is well balanced.  He is thorough enough in the research to make his point, but not to the point of boring the reader.  This balanced approach makes the concept of gamified learning understandable to anyone first approaching the topic.  Game designers will learn the learning component of their craft and instructional designers will see game design through their own lens of learning and instruction.

Karl also goes into the practical application of gamification in the workplace and balances the realities of the workplace with the excitement of new bells and whistles.  I think Cammy Bean's stop on the book tour pointed these parts out nicely.

I think we all need to ask ourselves a few questions:
1) Is an interactive Jeopardy game part of this new gamification craze?
2) Are "serious games" the same as gamification?
3) Do I want my LMS to offer badges?
4) Is my learner's job already gamified?
5) Is the business problem I'm trying to solve really a training problem?

I tossed in #5  just because I think we all to often forget to ask that question :)

Read the book.  Learn more about game design.  You will become a better trainer, teacher, designer, and learner.

Personal Note:
My personal thoughts on gaming and instruction vary.  As with all shiny new options in the growing world of tech-based training...IT DEPENDS.  My biggest concern is that games or gamification will be taken ONE thing, one solution.  We have a tendency to put different tech solutions in compartments that are separated from the other options we have.  Building a game is one thing, but utilizing gamification to enhance your training solutions is a completely different thing entirely.

The most important point is that thinking like a game designer might be the only thing we need to do. The final outcome doesn't need to LOOK like a game.  But if we begin to understand the theory behind what makes a game fun and engaging we may be able to look at our course design differently enough to begin making choices that delight our learners.

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