Category Archives: Teaching and learning

Snippets from the history of gameful learning

A collection of old gamesIs this a keyboard I see before me, its letters toward my hand? Why, it certainly is, and now I find myself writing the first Higgaion post in quite a long time. I’m working with some other Pepperdine folk on a workshop intended to encourage and support what we call “gameful learning.” We use this term to describe everything from using games and simulations in class to structuring entire courses like alternate reality games.

While typing an e-mail to one of my colleagues, I noticed that my Mac’s built-in dictionary doesn’t recognize the word gameful, so I decided to investigate the word using Google’s Ngram Viewer. I found a few interesting snippets.

Continue reading

Searching the scriptures (without Google’s help)

This post takes its name from the title of my presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, coming up November 23–26 in Baltimore. I will present in the Academic Teaching and Biblical Studies section in the 9:00 AM session on Monday, November 25 (Hilton Baltimore, Key 1). Here’s the abstract:

In many colleges and universities, we have already reached the point where a student’s (or professor’s!) first impulse when confronted with a desire for new information is to “Google it.” With the increasing power of small mobile computing devices like smartphones and tablets, students are rarely more than a few taps away from whatever online information sources they choose to access. The ubiquity of Google searches poses at least two specific challenges for biblical studies courses: (i) it enables students to rely more heavily than ever on secondary sources rather than primary sources, and (ii) it conditions students to rely less on memory and more on quick access to indexed information. Using a digital Bible instead of a paper Bible can accommodate and even “redeem” the second challenge while somewhat counterbalancing the first. In this presentation, I will describe how I have leveraged the ubiquity of smart devices to teach and test digital Bible search skills in “Religion 101: The History and Religion of Israel.” I will share specific apps and exercises used to help students climb the “scaffold” from Bible search novices to more skilled navigators of digital Bibles.

Continue reading

Gamifying higher education: is it BS?

Ian Bogost, professor of interactive computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, made waves a couple of years ago by bluntly characterizing gamification as bovine excrement. (That’s as profane as it gets here, folks. Deal.) Bogost had actually made the same points, in more detail but without the splashy hook, several months earlier in a column for Gamasutra.

In that May 2011 column, Bogost characterized “gamification” as “exploitationware.” Bogost’s chief target in the essay is gamification as a marketing gimmick, but some of his criticisms may have application to higher ed as well. Indeed, he begins the column with an anecdote from a higher ed conference:

Continue reading

Gamifying higher education: welcome to the World of Biblecraft

Here’s the elevator pitch: My Religion 101 course, also known as “World of Biblecraft,” functions like a cross between Farmville, Minecraft, and the World of Warcraft, where students earn XP and level up by exploring the Bible.

Continue reading

Gamifying higher education: a useful distinction

In the introduction to my blog series on gamification, I mentioned the New Media Consortium’s Horizon Report: 2013 Education Edition, which identifies “Games and Gamification” as a growing trend with a time-to-adoption horizon of two to three years. The term “Games and Gamification” updates the NMC’s older terminology, “Game-Based Learning.” By combining the use of educational games with gamification under a single reference, however, NMC potentially confuses two distinct phenomena.

Jennifer Zaino’s August 5 post for the EdTech Magazine blog, “Why Gamification Is Winning Points on Campus,” takes the confusion a step further by including the academic study of games under the heading of “gamification.” Continue reading