Jon Cassie is an educator, writer, podcaster and game designer based in Southern California. See his work at Game Level LearnIlinx and SchoolNEXT.

Evidence: How gaming changes the world for the better

Lest you doubted a key argument of this blog (namely, that gamification can and will change the world for the better), some news from Paris. Online gamers, the pioneers of game-thinking, using Foldit, have worked out the structure of a retroviral enzyme. Applications for this discovery will give scientists working on antiretroviral medications the capacity to design better anti-AIDS drugs.

It took the gamers 3 weeks to figure out the structure of this enzyme.

The applications of this software and this approach to learning are clear. Imagine giving your students a complex and real problem like the one solved by these gamers. 

Would it take them any longer to solve the problem? What would they learn as they tried? I would argue that through their self-interest and self-direction they would learn about the nature and structure of enzymes and proteins, how to work effectively in groups, how to break complex problems into smaller ones, how to think critically and how to overcome the inevitable set-backs that come when you are at work on a complex task.

A fascinating development!

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