Our next #AusELT chat (3/10/13 8:30pm AEST) is going to be on the topic of gamification. On behalf of the #AusELT community, I would like to thank in advance Paul Driver (@paul_driver) for joining us for a discussion of gamification. Even more generously, he has written a fascinating article on the topic to get people thinking about gamification and its implication for Australian ELT. I’ve posted this separately, but I’d like to provide a short introduction.

'Burning Pac-Man' by Patrick Hoelsy

‘Burning Pac-Man’ by Patrick Hoelsy

Gamification and Paul Driver

Gamification is fashionable. The term is gaining increased currency in Australian ELT. Like other such terms – the flipped classroom, mlearning, dogme, even communicative language teaching – it evokes responses ranging from excitement, through boredom, all the way to revulsion.  Like other fashions, it is often misrepresented and misunderstood; often the most prominent examples of it are also the worst – little more than simplistic and/or cynical attempts to capitalise on a temporary buzz.

I recently came across this bold claim from the website of a popular language learning app:

Learning, gamified.

Lose hearts with incorrect answers, practice against the clock, level up.

I tried the app (briefly, I admit) but found that the gamified aspect to it was much less motivating than the simple reward of applying my existing knowledge of French and learning something new.

At the other end of the spectrum is the ‘Dragon Collective Trilogy’, a ‘transmedia alternate reality game’ developed in part by the University of Melbourne’s Chinese Teacher Training Centre and Education Services Australia. In the game, students engage in a wide range of (learning) activities with the aim of ultimately defeating the ‘Doom of Not Knowing’.

Along similar lines is the inspiring work of Paul Driver. According to the bio on his Digital Debris website, he is “a language teacher, researcher, teacher trainer, graphic designer and illustrator working at a university in northern Portugal” who is engaged in “exploring the educational application of pervasive games, mobile technologies and locative storytelling for second language acquisition.”

Take some time to look at the Digital Debris pages dedicated to his pervasive game projects, Spywalk (for which he received an ELTon 2013 nomination) and Urban Chronicles. I’m sure you will quickly see how enviable a combination of skills Paul has acquired (teaching, researching and designing) and how this combination has allowed him to lead the way into thrilling new territory which highlights the hollowness of most ‘learning, gamified’ claims.

Please also join Paul and others for our chat, Thursday October 3, 8:30pm AEST. It is a great opportunity to find out more about Paul’s work.

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