Maximizing Your Gamification Presentation to Parents & Administration
Now that the first year of implementing my “gamified” classes is coming to a close, there are a few reflections and suggestions I’d like to make for anyone considering “gamifying” their classes.
First, remember that this concept is new and many students, parents, and administrators will not understand the concept. Don’t try to educate them all at once. Just as you likely took your time learning about this approach, give them information a little at a time – scaffold it just as you would any other lesson. I made the mistake of moving too fast and, although they were all very excited and enthusiastic, there was a lot of confusion and misunderstanding in the beginning. The elements of game design are very useful when planning to integrate gamification into your classroom. I actually invited my students’ parents to come in on a pre-determined day and observe first hand how it all worked (the time was limited to one class period, they could only observe during their child’s class, and would have to leave at the end of class). It was a wonderful success! Not only were they able to see it in action, they also observed how their child interacted and how the instruction fit into the model.
Here is the Gamification Design Framework developed by Professor Kevin Werbach which he presents as part of the (free) online Gamification Coursera MOOC (which I recently completed and I highly recommend):
- Define business objectives. Why are you gamifying? How do you hope to benefit your business/class, or achieve some other goal such as motivating people to change their behavior? As you state your objectives, emphasize the end goal or goals of your gamified design rather than detailing the means through which you’ll achieve this goal. Basically, if your gamified system does what you intend, what specific positive results will it generate for your organization?
- Delineate target behaviors. What do you want your players to do? And what are the metrics that will allow you to measure them? These behaviors should promote your business objectives, although the relationship may be indirect. For example, a business goal might be to increase sales, but the target behavior could be for visitors to spend more time on your website. As you describe the behaviors, be sure to explain how they will help your system achieve its objectives. The metrics should in some fashion provide feedback to the players, letting them know when they are successfully engaging in the intended behaviors.
- Describe your players. Who are the people who will be participating in your gamified activity? What is their relationship to you? And what are they like? You can describe your players using demographics (such as age and gender), psychographics (such as their values and personalities), Bartle’s player types, or some other framework. You should show that you understand what sorts of game elements and other structures are likely to be effective for this population. For example, you might discuss whether a more competitive or cooperative system would be better for this player community.
- Devise your activity loops. Explore in greater detail how you will motivate your players using engagement and progression loops. First, describe the kinds of feedback your system will offer the players to encourage further action, and explain how this feedback will work to motivate the players. (Remember: rewards are only one kind of feedback.) Second, how if at all will players progress in your system? This includes how the system will get new players engaged, and how it will remain interesting for more experienced players.
- Don’t forget the fun. Although more abstract than some of the other elements, ensuring that your gamified system is fun remains as important as the other aspects. In order to fully explore this aspect of the design process, consider how your game would function without any extrinsic rewards. Would you say it was fun? Identify which aspects of the game could continue to motivate players to participate even without rewards.
- Deploy the appropriate tools. By this point, you’ve probably identified several of the game elements and other specifics of your gamified system. If you haven’t already, you should explain in detail what your system would look like. What are some of the game elements involved and what will the experience be like for the players? What specific choices would you make in deploying your system? For example, you might discuss whether the gamified system is to be experienced primarily on personal computers, mobile devices, or some other platform. You might also describe what feedback, rewards, and other reinforcements the players could receive. Finally, think about whether you’ve tied your decisions back to the other five steps in the process, especially the business objectives.