From Gamification to Producification

At ISTE 2014, I was thrilled to share a critique of poorly implemented gamification through participating in my first IGNITE session – one of those 5 minute rants during which your slides progress automatically every 15 seconds.  It’s a challenging thing to prepare for because time is precious and you can’t dawdle on any thoughts. In this case, it was further complicated by the fact that the slides were due 3 weeks before the presentation, and I wasn’t totally sure what I was going to say.   Unsure of what to do, I decided to use a rhyming couplet structure to help guide my talk. I identified a “main idea” for each slide,  made sure I put them into the right order for an argument, and then wrote a couplet for each idea.   Here is the poem.  Some day I’ll post the slides and record my voice over them. . .but not yet.  Thanks for @magistrazee for snapping the pic and sharing about the Ignite session on twitter!



1) The past few years gami-fied learning has gained some traction

Today I’m here to speak with you – represent a concerned faction

Though not a critic of the approach itself, poor implementation drives me nuts

I’ll argue to producify – show learning at its guts


2) So who’s this guy, speaking out, with a critical poem?

My name is Andrew, I taught 12 years, the classroom felt like ho-em

An ADE, GCT, now at BrainPOP I reside

I love to think ‘bout how kids learn, I share with anyone by my side.


3) Most everyone can agree that engagement of a learner

is the holy grail to educate – make knowledge that much firmer

Research shows that engagement solidifies knowledge in our brains

So it makes a lot of sense that teachers looks for best mechanisaims


4) One approach that works real well to engage is using games

well designed and thoughtful ones have practical learning aims

taking risks, failing fast and building a mind of growth

are meta skills, beyond content, that frequent players know most


5) The concept of gamification is not playing games to learn

its applying game like structures to non-game situations in turn

making an experience, like driving a hybrid car

into an energy saving game-like world, where braking makes you go far!


6) Game like structures have been applied to curriculum and schools

the most well known is Quest to Learn when gaming structures rule

Kids don’t “sit around playing video games all day!”

game structures are applied to curriculum in each and every way


7) Games and Learning go hand in hand because the concept of flow

that “ooh yeah” mental state where time and space disappears out the “doe”

When challenged just right, its human nature to feel just really great

a well designed educational game makes learning new things your fate


8)  Many entry points to flow exist for human beings

the intrinsic motivation to learn is the educators perferred means

That inner drive to engage and learn just for learning sake.

Yet each learner’s intrinsic drive is different, arguing otherwise would be fake.


9) Another entry to flow can be extrinsic motivators

For student we use tickets, games, pizza parties – reward instigators

Though useful for many things  – notably eliciting certain desired behaviors

depending on them solely can damage a child far far greater.

10)  If means to flow is behaviorist we have a population that does not think

As skinner’s rats and pavlovs dog  were conditioned in a blink

Frequent flyer, foursquare checkin, and discount loyalty cards

use these behaviorist notions to get you spending far


11) We humans are addicted to escape within state of flow

we leave our present state behind play, more, more, more, we go

In many cases this is great – fitbit, superbetter by McGonigal

yet gambling is based addictive games with destructive thoughtless pull.


12) Games as an end to themselves are fab for a short escape

and in some situations can motivate us to do things that are just great

but its scary how some games are designed to create addictions

the designers are such physchological wizards doctors begin to write prescriptions.


13) Learning is messy and not always direct to reaching a final goal

but the indirect incidental learning can be what we come to behold

the windy path is full of  unintended  learning and wonder thinking,

while the gaming path is a clear and straight the imagination is shrinking


14) It’s scary to see a learning badge for something like a “worksheet ninja”

a star “behavior” warrior or a click the right button “winna”

Jaron Lanier has written alot about not becoming a gadget

but gamifiying without useful objectives can be very problematic


15) Designing a decent learning game that learners consider “hard fun”

is complex and difficult to do – shouldn’t be left to anyone

Harder still is applying game elements to an educational experience

if behavior management is a learning objective – why are we here to do this?


16) But now that we’ve thought critically about gamifying life

Producing is a better option thats filled with a lot less strife.

be it a tweet, a wooden box or even a bunch of code

to produce instead of gamify assures we’re not in matrix mode


17) To gamify is great if the player produces a something of use

I say start with producify – assuring the objectives aren’t loose.

Making production a meaningful part of learning for a student

Provides engagement, useful curriculum and creative movement.


18)  In my last poem verse, is the plea to producify

As you can probably tell by now this writing process was gamified

by adding a structure to these words and fit ideas into it

I’ve navigated space, with mechanics toward goals – a game like process though 2-bit


19 However the result is more than a game, there’s also a strong opinion

shared with you, dear ISTE crowd, go share it with your minion

regardless of whether you agree with my thoughts or think them overblown

you cannot argue that I did not producify – this ISTE ignite poem!


@agardnahh clip from ignite from Poerio on Vimeo.

One thought on “From Gamification to Producification

  1. Janine Bowes

    Thanks for putting this up Andrew. I attended the session and really loved the poem – it made some very important points in an entertaining and clever way. Can’t wait for the slides and voiceover version.

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