So, here’s an interview/profile regarding Dr. Katie Salen, a professor of Computing and Digital Media with a background in game design. With the support of some serious philanthropic heavyweights (including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, most famous for their ‘genius grants’), she has founded a gamification firm/design studio called the Institute of Play, and a gamified public 6-12 school called Quest to Learn.
I am very biased and underqualified, of course, having read little from the detractors of gamification and nothing from its supporters. Still, I found this video very strange. It made the philosophy of the school seem very ‘spoonful-of-sugar’, as opposed to presenting a really thorough integration of game mechanics and education. Also, I feel like the concern is less that, as Salen puts it “kids can and do learn in different ways outside of school, often via access to digital media”, and more that kids have a difficult time learning when digital media isn’t involved. Gamification, to me, seems like a way of coping with increasing apathy, impatience and entitlement and not a novel pedagogical approach with unprecedented results. But I guess you have to spin it somehow. Is that cynical or misinformed? What do you guys think?
Also, good luck on your final paper!