GAME-IFFY-CATION: EdSurge's Leonard remembers when a group of edtech enthusiasts once politely cautioned him to substitute the phrase "play patterns" in place of "gamification" as the latter did not capture the serious attitudes of teachers dedicated to improving their classrooms. It appears that Mr. Terry Heick, educator, writer, and founder at TeacherThought, disagrees. He writes in this no holds-barred article that "reducing the process of 'gamification' to something whimsical, silly, or juvenile represents a fundamental misunderstanding of gamification as a process." In fact, "life itself is 'gamified'," he asserts, from credit card rewards to social networks to Boy Scout badges, and yes, even "the letter grade has become more powerful than the learning itself."
Mr. Heick champions applications of gamification in the form of digital trophies--something that sounds like an interesting mix of digital badges and portfolio-based assessment. (Hey, Pathbrite: what do you think?) We've been wracking our brains to imagine what that looks like in practice. Nonetheless, it's clear that Mr. Heick wants learners to feel empowered by their unique skills and accomplishments, and not simply rewarded for following a pre-determined (albeit differentiated) learning track. If your classroom or school has gamified new processes that illustrate his point, we'd love to hear from you!