Intel has entered the education market by launching The Intel Learning Studio. Intel has said that the online studio will have “free professional development courses with game elements” for teachers. These courses are called “journeys.” The studio will also be a social hub where teachers can share lesson plans and give each other feedback using badges and trophies similar to those found on Valve’s Steam gaming platform.
“Through Intel’s education work, we’re equipping teachers to create and mentor the next generation of lifelong learners,” said Rosalind L. Hudnell, Intel’s director of Corporate Affairs and president of the Intel Foundation. “Because businesses are focusing more and more on technology, it is important for students to be ready with digital skills if they want to be economically independent.”
The announcement was made at the 12th Intel Education Summit, which is currently taking place in London. The word “gamification” was used frequently on the first day of the summit. If you’re not up on the latest business jargon, it means approaching situations as if they were a game, with an emphasis on points, flow, competition, and fun.
Some regard gamification as an exploitative marketing fad in the business world. Others think that it only takes the easy parts of game design and ignores the harder parts, like story, theme, and meaning. But in education, the term is being used more and more to describe a way of teaching that tries to get students interested by using techniques from game design.
Intel has opened its gaming learning studio because there seems to be a demand for “learning methods that incorporate games.” Aside from the fact that “game-infused” sounds like a terrible perfume idea and that a kitten apparently dies every time the word “gamification” is mentioned, applying game design to the classroom raises a number of intriguing questions.
Should schools follow the lead of game platforms such as Steam, Xbox Live, and the PlayStation network and award trophies and badges for in-class achievements rather than pass/fail grades? Can STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects be encouraged through competitive games? What about subjects in the arts and humanities, such as English and Philosophy?
Those topics, without a doubt, necessitate a different approach—less generic “gamification” and more interaction with specific games that tackle difficult ideas, such as Papers, Please and political corruption, or Gone Home and sexuality issues.
During the two-day summit, many different points of view will be shared, and we will write a summary when it is over.