Good news: Learning the story of humanity, from the big bang all the way through to the modern revolution and beyond, can now be fun. This is thanks to the Big History Project (BHP), a new online educating initiative developed by a range of educators, writers, scientists and curriculum writers, that aims to teach a detailed history of the universe. But here’s the hook: it uses game-based learning techniques.
The online project, formerly only available to educators, is backed by Microsoft and championed by Bill Gates himself. It is in its third year and is being used in over 100 schools across eight countries. Now, in conjunction with a new television series released by History Channel’s H2 Channel, the educational initiative is free and open to the public.
The course, which takes about 8 hours to complete, is made up of 8 “threshold” modules which consist of a variety of multimedia elements such as impressive videos, graphics and music.
An interesting aspect of the project is how it connects all the different stages of history into a meaningful story, which is an important part of gamification in gaining and keeping the users’ interest. We all know how hard that is when it comes to education.
It also incorporates other aspects of gamification. At the end of each threshold you can take a quiz to test what you have learned and earn badges for completing the module (don’t worry, you can retake a module as much as you like until you earn that coveted badge). Complete all the modules and vie for the title of Certified Big Historian. Fancy. (Be one of the first 10,000 users to achieve this to earn a free sticker!).
This is a big step for gamification, and we think it is a positive sign of things to come.