Improve learning – tweak the reward system

The quest was to watch a TED talk given by Tom Chatfield and offer some initial impressions of this talk and how it might impact my approach to design games for learning. Before I give my impressions of this fascinating talk, I must explain why I am on a quest to do so.

Earlier this week, I started a workshop on gamifying education offered by Boise State University.  I am learning how to use 3D GameLab, a quest-based learning platform in a closed beta. It has been a rewarding experience. I am amazed on how much fun learning in this environment has been. I am questing because the developers felt it was important that we first act like students before we can develop our own system, and I agree. For this particular quest, we were tasked with watching a video and reflecting upon it.

In the TED talk, Tom Chatfield focused on the power of rewards in a gaming system, and how they could be used in real life. He pointed out that rewards have the power to motivate individuals. While explaining the power of games, Chatfield noted that people spent over $8 billion to buy virtual items in game systems. He also discussed the intricacies of a reward schedule, but you can discover this for yourself.

In his talk, he highlighted seven principles; however, I am going to discuss the ones that have grabbed my attention while I participate in this beta workshop, and the items I will focus on as I build my course.

Experience Bars Measure Progress – I think this is critical. I certainly want to know how much I have to do to get my next achievement, rank, or block of quests. This bar can get long as participants advance in skill. Increased learning should be challenging.

Multiple Long and Short Term Aims – This is the key to questing. Load up on things to do, as long as they lead to a goal. As I look at my list of quests for quest builder, I know that I have 6 quests to complete my quest builder achievement.  Each quest will vary from 8 to 47 minutes to complete.  I also have other tasks for player and reward builder. Once those tasks are completed or a group of tasks are completed, I will be presented with new things to do. After completing each task, I get to enjoy a little high.

Rapid, Frequent, Clear Feedback – Having immediate clear feedback is essential for progress. Nothing is more frustrating than turning a project and receiving no feedback or getting feedback after when you need it to perform your next assignment. In the 3D Game Lab, the system provides feedback immediately through an advancement in the experience bar, completed quests, and through rewards.

So far, the quest designers in the 3D Game Lab have put together enjoyable learning activities. Because of the gaming nature of the system, I am trying to work out each activity. I am not sure I would pursue additional work in a traditional class.

1 thought on “Improve learning – tweak the reward system”

  1. Like you, I am enjoying the GameLab course overall and some of the quests like the one you have written about, have been worthwhile. I pulled out similar highlights but I am also curious as to how successful game mechanics will be for non game (educational) task.

    I have also enrolled in some of the other courses and some of the content is reused. Now I have 3 or 4 courses open its become more of a juggling act and I think I am experiencing a more authentic students viewpoint.

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