Learnings from In Focus: Games, gamification and games based learning event


Team Sabotaurus win the competition to design a game to teach numeracy, which had to involve dinosaurs.
Team Sabotaurus win the competition to design a game to teach numeracy, which had to involve dinosaurs.
Team Sabotaurus win the competition to design a game to teach numeracy, which had to involve dinosaurs.

On 4th March I attended the In Focus: Games, gamification and games based learning symposium held at the University of London. It was a really interesting day with great speakers and fun interactive events. Not to mention I was consistently in the winning teams all day long 😉

First up was Nicola Whitton, Professor of Professional learning from Manchester Metropolitan University talking about Gamification: too good to be true?

Nicola had done some research and got great feedback from students on how to make learning fun, students want:

  • To learn something personally meaningful, by doing something authentic
  • Teachers who have passion and enthusiasm
  • To have relationships and interactions with their peers
  • A lack of pressure

Based on her talk and research I committed to adding to or increasing in my teaching techniques:

  • To get engagement through encouraging creativity in my workshops by getting the students to create games
  • Similarly to utilise the power of storytelling, by getting the students to create stories
  • To include more mystery, more exploration, puzzle solving and playfulness in my lectures

Next we had Hannah Rice and Joel Mills from the University of Hull, talking about their project Hullcraft: A blend of historical architecture and minecraft

This was a great case study of how to spread knowledge that is currently held in paper based archives. They have been uploading blueprints from the architect Francis Johnson for people to try and build in Minecraft. An interactive way to learn about the architectural styles and details he used. They’ve also used gamification to great effect, getting people to come together into groups to manage complicated builds and categorising the blueprints into easy, medium and hard levels of difficulty that you have to work your way upto achieving. After this first project they now have a medieval village, a geology world and a modern day Hull world to play with. Their top tip was that there is a Minecraft plugin that works with Canvas MOOC platform.

Other highlights from the day included:

  • Jules & Isobel from Think with Things, showing their tools for using everyday objects as teaching tools
  • Andrzej Marczewski, Gamification Expert at Cap Gemini gave us an introduction to user and social player types
  • Dr Katie Piatt, my colleague at the University of Brighton, took us through a quiz (using Kahoot.it) that highlighted free and easy to use ideas on adding gamification to your learning activities and events (I was on the Winning team for this one too).
  • Santeri Koivisto, founder of TeacherGaming LLC creators of MinecraftEdu gave us some great examples of using Minecraft in the classroom for hands on learning
  • Adrian Hon, CEO of Six to Start, creators of the running game “Zombies, Run!” gave us a great talk on the failures of gamification in most health & fitness apps and how to do it better

About the author 

Pete Baikins

Pete Baikins is an international authority on gamification, a lifelong gamer, successful entrepreneur and a lecturer. As CEO of Gamification+ Ltd he mentors and trains companies world-wide on the use of gamification to solve business challenges. Gamification+ won the Board of Trade Award from the UK's Department of International Trade in January 2019.

Pete is co-host of the health gamification podcast Health Points and is also Chair of Gamification Europe, the annual conference for Gamification practitioners.

Pete is an Honorary Ambassador for GamFed (International Gamification Confederation), having previously been the Chair from 2014 to February 2019, whose aim is to spread best practices within and support the gamification industry.

After 15 years as a Lecturer on gamification and entrepreneurship at the University of Brighton he now guest lectures on Gamification at King’s College London and at ESCP Europe at post-graduate and under-graduate levels.

Over the past 20 years Pete has built and sold two businesses. One was in security software and the more recent one was a telecoms and internet connectivity business. He is also an Ambassador for Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce in the UK.

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