Points & Praise: Video Game Tactics in Teaching

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I'm always impressed to read about how innovative educators are finding new ways to engage students.

In today's post "Teach Like a Video Game" on the Clean Apples blog, a high school English teacher discusses lessons he's learned from video games. Namely, that they give immediate and in-depth feedback on how players perform every time they play. For a teacher, this is a revelation. He writes:

"I should be focused on describing their performance more than evaluating their product. I should also be looking for more opportunities to do this in small, sometimes informal ways, while students are learning and give students a chance to reflect on the descriptions I provide. This way, they can apply these reflections and learn better. This way, assessment becomes less extrinsic – performing for a grade reward – and more intrinsic – performing in order to do better and learn more deeply."

The teacher also writes about using video game tactics like "micro-motivators" to connect with and praise students on their hard work.


"For sound effects, I used verbal praise – in a tone different from my normal teaching voice. For tactile rewards, I shook his hand after our interview conference and after letting him know he did his best round of interviews ever. I also offered my best impression of “Unlockables.” When he hit 250 words on his rough draft – halfway to the 500-word minimum – I left him a comment on his rough draft on Google Docs. When he turned in the draft, I added a comment to his score in the online gradebook that said he did his best work of the semester this deadline."

Clever techniques.

It takes a teacher with confidence to be able to give credit to a video game as a useful reference for pedagogy.