Waiting for Gamification in Higher Education

When I was a kid I loved reading comic books. One of my favourite series was the Adventures of Tintin. I just had to have the video game of the same name was recently released for iPad.  During the Christmas break I couldn’t stop playing the game. The more I played it, the more I thought, “Why can’t we do this in education?”

For me the game had the challenge of learning to use the controls, I had to solve problems, there was a clean storyline, good animation, and I was rewarded for going off the beaten path as I (or should I say Tintin and Snowy) looked for gold coins. The skill level, for control and thinking, increased as the game progressed.

These key elements of gaming have been around since humans invented games. Unfortunately, educational games today come to an abrupt halt by the time someone enrolls in college or university. I would have loved to play an adventure game to help me learn four hundred years of Canadian history, or psychology, or research methods.

Even now as I work my way through the masters of education program, there are parts of the courses that could be gamified. Creating fictitious people and walking them through problem or scenarios is an excellent way to learn, and educators know that students learn and retain information best when they are engaged.

So how do we bring gamificaiton into higher education? That is a question I truly wish I could answer. I’m sure one day there will be the day where educators can insert the specifics of a lesson plan into a computer and a game based on the parameters will be generate. In the meantime, us adult educators will just have to wait for games to slowly make their way from high school into higher education.

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