I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of “DNA” in a K-12 educational systems type of way. Wonderings like, “What should be the DNA of a school district in 2030?” or “How can the genes (staff, students, parents, community) better use their talents to impact the future generation from a learning, global citizenship and career perspective?” or “What traits (skills & thinking) do our students need to possess to become successful and make a difference in the world in their lifetime?” and more importantly, “How will our teachers transition their mindsets, pedagogy and classroom experiences to support Generation Z and Generation Alpha students today, tomorrow and beyond?”
Just as the DNA of our student population is changing…Generation X, Generation Y, Generation Z and now Generation Alpha, so should our instructional approaches and the tools used to facilitate learning. Growing our practice sometimes requires us to revisit the past with a newfound lens. One big instructional approach that I personally feel did not get a fair shake the first time around was the concept of “gaming” in the classroom. The field of educational technology is in a much better position now to facilitate deeper usage of gaming types of tools to promote active learning in the classroom, encourage student collaboration, afford personalized learning, offer students immediate feedback, and encourage student voice and choice.
To get the conversations rolling again on purposeful eLearning gaming in the classroom, it’s important to look at the DNA of the two very distinct types of gaming currently available to support the teaching and learning process. In eLearning gaming, you’ll hear the terms gamification and game-based learning used interchangeably. Do they have similarities? You bet. Both approaches share “traits” such as game thinking, design and mechanics. Both types of gaming also engage players and solve problems. Digging a little deeper though into the DNA of gamification and game-based learning, they are similar yet quite different as the graphic illustrates below:
Over the next month or so, I plan on posting a variety of blogs on gaming tools. Some will be from a gamification lens and others from a game-based learning perspective. To showcase a larger variety of gaming tools, thanks to my doctoral class at Central Michigan University, EDU807 Learning Tools, I’ll be collaborating with a peer of mine, Natalie Makulski, a 3rd Grade teacher from Botsford Elementary in Clarenceville Schools. We’ll each write multiple separate blogs about eLearning gaming and link our blogs to each other’s for a deeper storyline about why gaming should be revisited and utilized more often in the K-12 learning environment. Looking forward to sharing our thinking! Also, don’t be surprised if a few Saline Area Schools teachers pop in as guest bloggers too!