Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamification) defines "gamification" as "the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems." Evidence of this trend is everywhere you look these days, in school and out. One recent, notable example is Goldie Blox (http://www.goldieblox.com), a game designed expressly for girls that teaches engineering concepts. The brainchild of engineer Debbie Sterling, Goldie Blox was a huge success on Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/16029337/goldieblox-the-engineering-...) and recently started shipping. (It also recently was caught up in a huge controversy surrounding one of its ads (http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/goldieblox-removes-beastie-boys-so...) but that's a story for another post.
Most people I've spoken to about the Goldie Blox product say that they support the idea of encouraging girls to pursue engineering careers, but there is general disagreement that the "gamification" as demonstrated by Goldie Blox's approach is the right path or not. Kristin Perkins commented on the brouhaha, saying:
"While it is true that engineering toys exists they are specifically marketed to boys. Though there is nothing technically stopping girls from playing with those toys most don't just because they are associated with boys. Goldie Blox also plays on the well proven fact that girls tend to read while boys tend to build. This is just statistical(ly) accurate and Goldie Blox incorporates reading into the product making it more appealing to young girls."
So the question becomes: is "gamification" (as in this example) a new hope to reach a budding generation of learners? Put another way, is this kind of "marketing hype" a necessary evil in the materialistic, over-promotional, media-saturated world kids are growing up in?
What do you think, Edutopia reader?
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