Blabbing with Game Changers

As part of the Game Changers programme, I was always keen to have a global conversation to echo what gamification in learning can afford. As a learner and teacher of open programmes, I believe that the connected network has so much to offer learners, disregarding whether they are formally known as teachers or students. We are all learners.

Now, it is of no surprise that there are of course some vocal gamification enthusiasts out there and so I started to make the progress of the Game Changers programme publicly available on Twitter. Reaching out to Maha Bali and beginning conversations with her then flourished into more conversations with Mark McGuire and Maha Abdelmoneim. And so, I thought how great would it be to get these people live in the same room to talk about their experiences and reflections of gamification in learning. As they all share this same ‘open’ ethos as I, it didn’t take too much persuasion to get a conversation organised.

We had been talking about Blab, a relatively new video conferencing/discussion platform powered by a Twitter API. Up to four people can live ‘hangout’, with a chat box option for viewers to discuss and ask questions. The great thing is that if one person decides to leave their video seat, another viewer can step in if they wish to. We can also see which Twitter users have joined the Blab, if they have signed in and there is also a map so we can see where viewers are joining from too. What we cannot do from the interface level is match Twitter IDs to location, and as a privacy activist I don’t see as a bad thing, but I’m sure with a little investigation it wouldn’t be difficult to figure out.

Now the other side of my role in the DMLL as the Community Assistant, I strategise and organise events, so this of course goes hand in hand with this conversation I wanted to organise. I have recently redesigned how the #disruptivebytes series would run so instead of 1 speaker for a 45 min keynote-esque talk we would have at least two speakers within an hour talking about the same topic. And so this Blab again would fit comfortably in this remit.

So we were bombs away, Mark stayed up super late in New Zealand to join us and we were live from 11:30 (GMT) with only one technical glitch! I introduced why we were there and what we were going to be taking about, we have a quick round of introductions and off we were with everyone’s opening thoughts, starting with Mark then Andrjez who joined us in the lab, Maha Bali and then finally Maha Abdelmoneim.

For me, the main takeaways were that gamification in learning affords the idea of failure. In education circles there is a stigma around failure insofar as it is not really an option; but in games failure is learning. How many times have we failed on a level of Angry Birds? Doesn’t mean we give up on the game, it means we learn what birds can do what, how much force they need and what angle we should shoot them off at. Let’s not give up on learning, so let us embrace failure, because we honestly don’t go through life with epic wins.

Secondly, another interesting comment was this around the semantics of games, gamification and play. Each of these words are loaded with pre-loaded ideas of what they mean outside of learning and so there is a tension when we think about bringing gamification into a ‘serious’ learning environment. This discussion would be interesting to have with staff and students to see how they feel about using these approaches to teaching and learning. Perhaps this would be a good topic to discuss next time…

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