These are posts from the early discussions about Game-On at Adobe’s EdEx forums, before we had our own group area in which to post.  I’ve saved them here because as EdEx matures and Adobe’s website changes, they’ve become harder and harder to return to and I’m worried about loosing access to them entirely at some point.


Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/10/13 2:23:32 PM Permalink

For me, Having the kids KNOW that gamification is just gamifying real learning is the ONLY thing that matters. It’s the secret to the whole thing. I fear that we could be doing a major disservice otherwise.

For me, I read McGonigal, Pink, etc, and it’s about changing MINDSET, not reality. If we present things as games to kids.. how will they be able to learn to enjoy their english 101 class more in college where the teacher DOESN’T gamify?

For me, gamification is not at all about making my class more fun. It’s about showing the kids that when something is hard, it should be seen as fun! Hard does NOT equal bad. And easy does NOT equal good. It’s the very opposite. You can make anything fun- it doesn’t have to be a game. Gamification is a mindset, IMO.

For me, the whole point if gamifying is teaching the kids that shifting your mindset can turn a “boring class” into a fun one. The TEACHER doesn’t have to make it fun by adding a digital interface to it. That’s just lipstick on a pig. Adding XP and gold and all that will backfire if it’s not about RAMP (loved the link Mike gave elsewhere I’m too lazy to find. Relationships are critical.)

The biggest thing I’m struggling with when it comes to gamification is the same thing I struggle with in ALL my teaching: If I give it to them- if they have no ownership and I just do the work for them, they won’t value it.

I wrote about this over 10 years ago and brainbuffet gets it’s name from this reflection… I fear I might have lost my way. I reflect and think I was a much better teacher then than now. I feel I tried to make it too easy on myself, so I’m not having any fun and I’m not motivated. What makes a game fun is that it’s hard.

One major part in gamification I’m missing is ownership. Ownership of GAMIFICATION as well.

McGonigal in a recent interview said this:

But I think the biggest thing is really just awakening people to the possibility that they have a part to play in making the future, and that they can use whatever talents, and skills, and abilities they have to solve the world’s toughest problems. That is something they can do. They don’t just have to save the world in video games, they can save the real world.

That’s what I’m going for… Who gives a rip if I gamify my class and the kids have a blast, but they can’t translate that into their chores, their other classes, their own personal goals for developing themselves in the ways they choose??

My goal for gamifying the class isn’t making them like my class more… it’s about teaching them about gamification and teaching them to use that attitude to enjoy their lives more.

I want it to go beyond my class period- beyond the 4 walls of my classroom.

McGonigal says in the same interview:

“We don’t play games for fun. I mean if there’s something I really, really can’t stand it’s the idea that the greatest gift of games is fun, which it doesn’t seem to me to be true at all. I mean we can have fun doing anything but the great gift of games it’s to stop suffering. And that’s a lot of what my book is about…”

It’s not about fun, it’s about MEANING. Making learning more fun can tilt the psyche of our students into even more believing that the world should entertain them.

I don’t want them to think that for Urgent Optimism, Social Fabric, Blissful Productivity, or Epic Meaning they need to enter a game. I want them to know they just need to enter a mindset.

How do I teach them to be happier, purposed, more engaged PEOPLE, rather than just happier, purposed, more engaged students while in my class?

Bottom Line (Why do I always sum things up this way? I think it’s because I ramble. So sorry about that…):

I want my class to teach them to be better, happier, more productive HUMANS with a joy for life. If they never touch an artistic tool or digital design app for the rest of their lives, I don’t care. I want to teach them joy, not photoshop.

By the way, the research that most of gamification is built on is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s research on FLOW. It’s the psychology behind gamification- which is what, ultimately, I really care about.

It’s all about teaching the kids to be more happy. Making their life more meaningful and a joy to live.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/14/13 6:15:57 PM Permalink

AMP | Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose

From this resource.

AMP (Autonomy Mastery Purpose) in response to Nathan’s request

The idea comes straight from Dan Pink who in turn got it (in part) from Deci and Ryan’s research that led to their Self-Determination Theory. I was first exposed to the concepts in this video then in Pink’s book, Drive.

I read Drive over winter break in 2011 and decided I’d mimic the Atlassian 24 hour “FedEx” day (see Motivation on this page) in the (approx) 24 days we had until the end of the semester (one hour per class per day). Since research demonstrates that paying people enough to take the issue of money off the table is key to getting optimal results, I did just that.

On the first day back, I pitched the kids. I explained the research and the concept. After a short discussion we agreed that grades were the equivalent of money in school so I promised to give everyone an A for the semester’s grade if they gave AMP their all and documented the experience.


Students were given the option of working on any project and/or skill-building exercises they wanted so long as it was even remotely related to what we do in the Mac Lab. Those who didn’t know what to do were free to use any of my tutorials and/or continue working on the same projects as before. The only additional requirement was they had to document the experience before, during, and after the 24 days to provide anecdotal evidence of the experiment’s success (or lack thereof).


The theory holds that when individuals are given autonomy in deciding how to do their jobs, the tendency toward mastery is a natural consequence. Recognition and status replace extrinsic rewards as prime secondary motivators.


(Perhaps the most misunderstood part of the AMP equation.) Our purpose, as I continually tell the students, is to change the course of education in this county. With this experiment, our specific purpose was to prove that students could self-select and self-direct their learning over the course of a month. I promised, as always, to share the results far and wide and I offered to extend the experiment if enough students proved they could handle the challenge.

Remember: The purpose has to be bigger than oneself. If the purpose is simply to make oneself better, it’s not AMP. Being part of something larger is the real lever. I can’t stress that enough.

Some of the results were shared in this comment. The students that tried and floundered still succeeded in my eyes. They discovered what didn’t work. The students who stopped trying (there always seems to be a few despite my best attempts to prod and encourage) did not receive an A. Not one disagreed with me. I saw that as another win.


Discovering that some students didn’t like self-direction was enlightening. Discovering that many students deeply resented the slackers surprised me. As I write, however, I’m wondering if it was because we were in fact a team, trying to prove something to the world and the fact that some teammates weren’t pulling their weight really bothered some students. I hadn’t even considered that angle until right now. I guess they really may have felt part of something bigger than themselves. That’s a big takeaway.

The kids who started seeing their world a little differently because of AMP? Epic Win.


Edit: “Since research demonstrates that paying people enough to take the issue of money off the table is key to getting optimal results, I did just that.”

That would seem to lend credence to the value of The World’s Simplest Rubric. In essence, it takes the issue of money off the table as well. (Just thinking out loud.)