During this unique period of technology-driven transformation, the education sector has so far been slow to embrace the power of digital tools that can be used to accelerate learning. Institutions spend time, energy, and money protecting and defending conventional teaching methods while casting aside new, transformative ways in which we can adequately prepare young children and even adults for the ever-evolving world in front of us.
While the stimulations of digital connectivity have certainly shortened the attention spans of the young and old alike, generating quite a challenge for educators in both K-12 and university-level teaching, there is actually something positive about this. Human beings have developed superhuman powers in multitasking and an insatiable desire to be in control and hands-on in what they seek out.
We Are Hands-On Multitaskers
A given smartphone user checking any one of our four or five screens for emails, messages, and notifications every few minutes is, in some ways, evidence of the ability for that person to use their brain exponentially. What educators and administrators need to do is look beyond the mere physical emphasis of using technology and view it instead as a tool showcasing how individuals want and need to learn in more interactive ways.
Essentially, instead of teaching students how to use a computer, of which many are already experts at, we look at the technology just as common as a carpenter views a hammer and find interactive, exponential ways to use that technology in refining an already-exponentially functioning mind. And one of the more common ways that I've discussed in the past is with gamification.
Why gaming? Simple: gaming is hands-on, is interactive, and further fosters critical and exponential thinking. An individual must problem solve and find a solution when challenged to do so, and after the activity is over, an educator has the ability to prompt their student to use an Anticipatory mindset in figuring out how they could solve those problems presented in the game or activity before they occur.
Soft Skills and Socialization
I recently wrote a blog about the art side of science and math, which refers to the "soft skills" that human beings can leverage to stay competitive in an ever-increasing autonomous society.
To briefly recap that concept, in Bloom's Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain, human beings will need to excel at creation, innovation, and elements of socialization that machines cannot do, while machines are fast mastering the math, science, and even programming end of tasks at companies. Gamification in education can greatly improve teaching the soft skills, as using technology as a tool for gamification allows an individual to interact with said technology in human ways.
In a common real-world example, think of fitness equipment like Peloton or Mirror that generate fitness challenges for you to participate in. While you exercise, they handle the math and science of these interactive workouts. Without them, you would be counting how many reps you do yourself, having to potentially write them down in longhand, or remember them while you move on to other exercises.
Seems cumbersome for you to do it all, right? It is, which is why Peloton and Mirror handle that part of the equation, allowing you to focus on the physical element of your workout alone; the part that there is absolutely no need for a machine to do even if it could.
Gamification also facilitates a social element to education, which is desperately needed as the world becomes more virtual. There is certainly nothing wrong with the Hard Trend of remote work, which has been accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for us to be virtual workers where applicable. However, we mustn't forget that we as humans work with humans also, not just faceless computers.
When you play a game or engage in a hands-on activity, there is a social element combined with a competitive element that forces you to both engage and concentrate. That powerful combination makes education and training fun and interactive, and the competency one receives from it is an understanding of how to work together and communicate, no matter what digital device sits between us.
As we work the powerful concept of gamification into our curriculums, both in schools and at organizations, Anticipatory Leaders will look to new, disruptive technology and how it can be utilized as a tool and not as a replacement for a person.
Ironically, gamification in education is often viewed as a gimmick, much like how certain disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence (A.I.), machine learning (M.L.), and others were viewed before they upended whole industries. Gamification is certainly something that will only increase in benefit as exponential digital disruptions increase more every year.
Educators should use my Anticipatory Leader System to pay closer attention to the Hard Trends shaping the world, especially outside of the classroom, and find interactive ways to use digital technology to gamify their curriculum in innovative, interactive ways. This effort helps better teach students both how to use the technology and how they can think and work with it exponentially as a human with soft skills in the equation.