Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Gamification and the Maker Movement, the new reality in education??

Photo Credit: Flickr
I've been thinking a lot lately about Game based learning or "Gamification" as well as apps related to the "Maker Movement". Since it's been playing in my mind, I did a little research and found this short article that gives a snapshot of Gamification is and apps that were approved in the article,  "Smart Games for Game Based Learning" I also viewed, 

Jane McGonigal's hilarious and thought provoking TED Talk, "Gaming can make a better world". Watch it, it's 20 minutes well spent and has great connections to learning.

Honestly though, Gamification isn't such a new concept now; as schools are always in search of the most engaging apps to reinforce and extend learning for multiple curricular outcomes. However, it's the Maker apps that I think have great potential for Project Based Learning or Inquiry in the classroom, and are worth some examination! 

Design apps and software is something I have a little experience with. In the past I used Google SketchUp as a tool for a community redesign project, called Architecture Goes to School. It was undeniably a fantastic way for allowing students to dabble in architecture using a really effective free tool.  Recently I decided to check out and explore the Build With Chrome  app. This tool is a great way for students to take concepts from the concrete in playing and creating with actual Lego, to working more in the abstract with essentially digital Lego building blocks. (Actually in a classroom having a center where students can build with Lego, then move to a center where they can build with Chrome Build might be something worth pursuing. Hmmm.... Maybe a unit to consider...)

All of these tools are all resources for the Maker Movement, which encourages creativity, innovation and critical thinking. All essential principles central in constructivism. In an article, "Let's Make Sure Our Children Embrace the New Maker Culture", the benefits on learning with the philosophy behind the Maker Movement are explored with a push for encouraging it to thrive in schools. When the author, Roy Kieder states, "Makers today are at the forefront of advancement because they possess the skill of fast learning and adaptation. They are able to quickly move to new areas, study them, and connect them with other fields of knowledge.", as an teacher you can't help but get excited, as this is what we all want for our students.  It's pretty hard to deny the validity of exploring the Maker Movement in schools, especially with it's connections to developing traversal thinking skills.

A very popular app or game that has captured the attention of many kids (including my 7 year old daughter), is Minecraft. Initially I wasn't sure about the positive elements of this app, until my daughter started showing me what she had designed and some of the challenges that she had to figure out and problem solve while designing. As she explained her own creative process and what she had figured out, I could see what the craze was all about, and decided it was worth another look. 

However..... For use at home I see it's worth the purchase, but do we buy Minecraft as an app for school tablets??? Would there be a huge public outcry? (Probably) Not to mention that it's very expensive at a school-wide level. Yep it's only about $7, but multiply that by devices... It adds up. Plus going back to parent and public perception - would people get it?? Would the public 'get it', or is it just another battle like allowing smart phones in school. (I'm still trying to get my head around the fact that some school divisions don't allow them). 

Honestly, I think that this area is worth more exploration. I noticed that there was a Maker Movement MOOC in Cousersa that I need to sign up for. Now I just need to find a little time...

If you are interested in learning more about the Maker Movement, here are several articles and resources for further reading:

To learn the language of the Maker Movement (must be a lot of engineering terms???) Check out this article, 

This article focuses on maker apps in the classroom that might be worthy of purchase...

"24 Unique Maker Education Resources For Teaching & Learning" at Teach Thought 

If you want to check out some other digital maker apps check out this link to an article,
"39 Tools to Turn your Students into Makers

Awesome video from Edutopia to check out...

"How the Maker Movement Connects Students to Engineering and Technology"

I wish my school had the funds for learning that Quin's school does. 3-D printers?? Really??? We're just trying to achieve a 1:3 ratio of devices to students. An issue I'm sure many schools struggle with... 


  1. I watched the latter video first, was so impressed I had to go back and watch the long one! Interesting future ahead of us with blending/incorporating gaming with education. I suppose the level of parental support of technology/gaming in it's various forms in education is generational. The more gamers created, the less resistance we may see?

  2. First off, i'm new to blogging and I just want to say how impressed I am with your ability to put this blog together. I am so interested in reading more of your blogs!!
    As for the short video, I found this very interesting hearing about the Maker Movement from a young student! Reminded me of Bill Gates in his garage! haha! You never know! Great Job, Jenn!