Ep 005 Gamification outside the classroom with Sylvester Arnab

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Sylvester Arnab is a professor on game science, a research lead at the Disruptive Media Learning Lab of Coventry University and a founder of the Beaconing project.

The Disruptive Media Learning Lab is exploring and experimenting with new methodologies for learning, and Sylvester is also working on privately funded projects. He plays his own “checklist game”, the quests are set in the morning but easter eggs might come up, otherwise, he rewards himself accordingly!

The worst experience was a session about gamifying a course, but the session was not gamified at all! It had no examples, the sessions were a bit dry and the audience was a bit discouraged. It is important to practice what you preach! It is also important to rightly set expectations. Think the simplest experiences can engage your audiences if you cater to their needs!

One of the greatest challenges was to create a space for lecturers and students at the university. What Sylvester did was create a game where they could get together and collaborate to create what they wanted! Towards the end, there was a lot of respect, but they were now colleagues and everybody was able to learn a lot. The students were not just consumers but also codesigners and cocreators of the experience!

Sylvester’s approach to gamification is holistic and pragmatic, that is bottom-up. It needs not be digital and starts by analyzing the needs. There they get inspiration to find what activities to create. The final stage is to see what lessons can be taken from games we know, but as simple as possible.

The Beaconing project, funded by the EU Commission, they are trying to look at different tools and connect the learning from the classroom setting also outside, even after you leave the class, at the university, at home, etc.

Sylvester finds that the hybrid experience of Fitbit is a great example of digital gamification. Some extrinsic mechanics help you discover your intrinsic motivation, like with your health. Once you’ve found this it is easier to retain the habit. For non-digital, there is a project where he’s been involved and is Erasmus plus playing for real. The objective is to engage non-employed people who are 40 years or above, but because of the crisis have lost confidence in their skills, so they can discover what they can actually do and not be restricted by their past. Many of their participants have started a business by changing their attitudes and have found new ways of looking at themselves.

His favorite game right now is called “Blackbox“. It invites to think outside the box, it has no instructions and relies on players to explore.

Sylvester would like to listen to Jesse Schell in Professor Game, there is a lot of things to learn from his work. Since it is important to understand game design to create gamification, he also recommends “The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses” of Jesse Schell.

Sylvester feels we should acknowledge the power of play, so thinking of the power of engaging in gameplay, how can we create “serious” activities to make them engaging, impactful, with feedback and game thinking in general. So remember how you feel when you are doing something gameful, that is what you want to make your students feel when they are learning.

For his solution to make a statistics class, you’ll have to listen to the episode!

You can find Sylvester on Twitter as @sarnab75 or on Linkedin as Sylvester Arnab

Play and explore, be inspired, remix the mechanics of gameplay for your learners, think of their experience. Engage in gameplay and learn all the time!

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