I keep seeing articles about the gamification of learning or of working, which translates into getting people to do things for rewards such as those in video games--the gold stars of childhood writ large and within a game context. I believe in that idea, because who didn't want to win a gold star instead of a red one?
That's one of the things that MOOCs and other types of badges-based learning get right. There's a feeling of satisfaction in doing something right and seeing it there on the screen: getting all the answers right in an online quiz that you take for fun, for example, or seeing if you can beat your high score and earn some free rice for another country.
I've been thinking about this, because 750words.com has a badge system. My badges haven't changed since I started using it in September 2011, so I usually paid no attention to them, but yesterday two new ones popped up: one for writing 5 days in a row, and the other for writing 100,000 words since I started with the site.
100,000 words? That gave me pause. They weren't all great words or even finished text; if they were, this book would be done. Some were just notes on texts for the book or research brainstorming, but they were all words related to this book project, and the computer had counted them, and now I had a badge to prove it.
Did it motivate me? You bet. This is one sort of motivation (badges); other sites like writtenkitten.net give you cute pictures (positive reinforcement) and some, like writeordie.com, terrify you with loud noises if you stop writing (negative reinforcement). The reinforcement is intrinsically meaningless, since you're imposing it on yourself with the aid of technology, and yet it works.
I wonder if we could gamify the teaching of writing in the same way.