“How do I even start?”
This has to be the most common question from a teacher looking into gamification.
The more I think about it the more I think the answer is simple:
Do Something & Get Caught Trying!
Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of gamification and game inspired principles that can be applied and it can feel overwhelming at first but just try something. It can be small. It can be goofy. It might fail miserably.
No matter what you try just make sure you get caught trying.
One of my biggest frustrations is a professional development session that starts with the session leader saying “look, you are already doing this“. Gamification, Games Based Learning, and Game Inspired Designs is not what you were normally doing. They have a lot of theoretical and practical applications that will take time to effectively utilize. Just remember it all begins and ends with the creating a Student Centered Experience. Think of every game you have ever played. The Player is the center of that universe. Literally the camera of every video game ever designed has the player as the driving force within the game.
When I sit down to design my classroom in August I think about the classroom as a game and then add structures which center the individual student’s experience. If school were Dungeons and Dragons the teacher is the Dungeon Master crafting obstacles to be critically and creatively overcome! If you like Dice – add dice! If you love card games – make cards! If you love stories – add a theme or a narrative! Your passion is will come through and the kids will notice.
Most importantly – let the students know what you are doing! Bring them along for the ride and get caught trying to make their experience more fun and/or engaging. They will appreciate it, they will help you grow, but most importantly they will know that you care about them.