Unlike my previous complimentary post about Minecraft, I find this – and many other ed tech gamification tools – to be the ‘junk food’ of educational technology. Sure, kids like it (just like they like french fries more than cooked veggies) and they get a lot more excited by it than “regular class work,” but in the end, we have a lot of research in the learning sciences that shows that this type of extrinsic motivation hurts learning and motivation in the long run. Specifically, this does nothing to help students get engaged in what they are learning, only the idea of earning points and getting on the leaderboard. And it further demotivates those students who are not able to perform well by reinforcing their sense of being a failure relative to their peers.
Do we really want our schools to turn into little game shows and our students to turn into game show contestants, rewarding quick recall of facts over thoughtful and sustained analytical thinking?
The learning game, made by a Norwegian start-up, is sweeping American schools. Over a third of elementary and secondary students used it last month.