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Can kids cheat in gamified learning?

4 years ago

Tom Baker writer
Tom Baker Quib.ly Staff Writer Derby, UK

It can be difficult to get kids to pay attention at school – they’d much rather be at home on the Xbox. Solution? Gamified learning, apparently – but it can be as tempting to ‘cheat’ this education system as it is Halo 4, and maybe easier.

Gamification is what it sounds like – applying the mechanics of games to learning. That doesn’t necessarily mean children playing games at school, although that’s part of it. It’s more about integrating aspects of games into education: instant feedback, competition, and rewards for even the smallest steps forward.

It’s an approach that’s getting praise seemingly across the board – but what if someone decides to cheat? Just as the Konami Code is a foolproof way of unlocking stuff in videogames without actually doing any work, there are ways to trick gamified systems into thinking you’re learning more than you actually are.

Ian Bogost, author of How to Do Things with Videogames, puts this down to children seeing games as ‘points-machines’ rather than ‘experience-machines’ – it’s about the winning, not what you learn along the way. A well-designed game is prepared for and can deal with cheating, but that hasn’t been the case for much gamified learning so far.

Cheating in gamified learning makes as little sense as cheating on a traditional test – you’ll pass, if you don’t get caught, but you won’t actually learn anything. There’s still hope for gamified learning though, if they’re more prepared for the cheats – basically it needs to become even more, well, like a game.

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