02. 2017-June-8

Picked up a number of books from the library I had requested, including "Gamification of Learning and Instruction" from Hazel's list, and "Tree-Thinking: An Introduction to Phylogenetic Biology" and "The Three Failures of Creationism". The former of the two I found while searching through the Evo Ed Out literature, and will be useful for my Gavin reading, and the latter will be a useful resource for my Duff reading.

Having read the first chapter of Gamification, I must say it's a fantastic book. In the foreword, the following statement:

"Although games themselves are not new - they've been played in the earliest civilizations - we have reached a confluence of technology and design where games have become ubiquitous and seem to have a unique ability to engage when we most need it."

I will remark that the italics are not my emphasis. This statement is like a sublime grace of exactly what I want to do with my research. The first chapter then explores both the concept of what is a game, and what is gamification, in a way that both acknowledges and dismisses the complexities of defining both, as well as the nuance and hyperbole surrounding the latter. Quoting a book on game design, there is the definition "A game is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome." This is then modified further utilizing additional terms and work from the book A Theory of Fun, by Ralph Koster:

"A game is a system in which players engage in an abstract challenge defined by rues, interactivity, and feedback, that results in a quantifiable outcome often eliciting an emotional reaction."

The chapter then proceeds to assess each major noun in the above definitions, before proceeding to express and then streamline a definition for gamification:

"Gamification is using game-based mechanics, aesthetics and game thinking to engage people, motivate action, promote learning, and solve problems."

The relevant elements of the definition are then again assessed, and followed by a discrete listing of what gamification explicitly is not (Badges, Points, and Rewards; Trivialization of Learning; New;Foreign to Learning Professionals; Perfect for Every Learning Situation; Easy to Create; and Only Game Mechanics), and a summary of the relationship of Gamification v Serious Games ("..the use of serious games will be considered a form of gamification because serious games are a specific sub-set of the meta-concept of gamification.").

While there are many important takeaways from the chapter, to me, the biggest two are the definitions of what is a game, and what is gamfication. 

There are thirteen more chapters to this book, and I plan to push through them in a day or two, or perhaps by extending my comps prep schedule to include weekends as needed.

As I have seen it, I have:

  • 428 assigned pages of articles and chapters to read
  • 4 assigned books (split between two committee members, Gary and Hazel)
  • ~2 additional self-imposed books on relevant topics (mentioned above)
  • Titles and Abstracts of two years of several journals (for Randy)
  • A deep dive into an evolutionary narrative, consisting likely of skimming of a few dozen papers and books (again for Randy)
  • 5 weeks to do all of it

Simply, I have one week per committee member, minus one day a week spent revising my research proposal (for the proposal defense that will follow comps), a three day workshop on environmental education modules, a trip to Columbus for a weekend, and ongoing work developing at least one lab module.

It is daunting, but I am excited. The task is set, and I am ready.

03. 2017-June-9

01. A Daily Timeline