I had a thought the other week. Every morning on my way to work I see (and hear) a subway performer playing music. Some are quite good, inciting smiles or brief pauses from people walking by. Now imagine these performers had a few jars labeled with different emotions laid out in front of them. Depending on where commuters dropped their coins, the performer would play a song that evoked the respective emotion. Now the money you give to performers no longer goes into a (metaphorical) black box, but has a tangible outcome.
David Humphrey recently showed me this awesome project by Mozilla called Open Badges. For my gamification project, I had initially planned on implementing my own achievement module to keep track achievements. I hadn’t put too much thought into this so when Dave asked me how I planned to tackle issues like security (preventing students from unlocking achievements illegally) and authentication (proving that students have in fact completed the requirements for the achievement), I knew I had hit a roadblock. Thankfully Open Badges solves a lot of these problems. Mozilla’s provided a simple API to interface with their system that makes issuing achievements (badges) remarkably easy.
One of my school courses has given me the awesome opportunity to find a client, analyze their needs, and subsequently develop a system to satisfy those needs. Most students in my class have chosen to find clients with practical needs – a new invoicing system, a robust ticket ordering system, and so on. While these are all adequate and will undoubtedly provide the students with vital real-world experience, I’ve decided to use this course to start implementing my vision on gamifying education.
For the uninitiated, gamification is the inclusion of gaming mechanics and systems into non-gaming domains. This is usually done to increase the appeal of said domain. A common example is the rewards system tied in to many major credit cards. The SonyCard, for instance, gives you a number of points every time you purchase something, points that can then be redeemed at the Sony store for Sony products. Adding this rewards system to a credit card is a prime example of gamification. Knowing that each purchase brings the elusive reward closer motivates the consumer to spend more.