Great minds are already at work on a very big idea: What if we morph the emerging fascination with massive N predictive learning analytics with a mechanism for collecting massive transactional behavioral data where millions and millions of subjects already willingly volunteer their input?
Learning Analytics, meet Gamification.
I don't like the term gamificiation, either. But I'm not talking about the introduction of check-ins and badges to everything. THAT is something I would much prefer to call ... playing with games. Rather, I am talking about the benefits of considering the rich massive N data source for tracking the behavioral transactions of game play. And being able to subject that big pool of data to a battery of descriptive, inferential and predictive statistical methods to identify points of loss and momentum.
Anne Derryberry, a 2010-2011 Fellow at the Reynolds Journalism Institute, University of Missouri School of Journalism, has been applying what she calls purpose-driven game design to journalism and journalism education. She has focused on games as an emerging medium and distribution channel for news-telling, particularly as a means to induce community engagement and civic participation.
Her research is also indicating ways to track and analyze behavioral transactions and player interactions of an online game to enable new ways to understand points of loss and momentum in communications- related endeavors. She's coined the term "journalytics" to describe how analytics and purpose-driven game design mesh to give journalism and news outlets the metrics they need to focus and adjust their interaction strategies.
Relevant for journalism. AND education. IMHO. Early and preliminary results. But still. We in the learning world can benefit from some of these ideas.
Anne will be quick to point out that America's Army and other MMOGs have been using game play for recruitment, community building and even into predictive performance advising and professional development guidance for a while now. She has been tracking serious games for learning, training and performance support for the past few years at her blog, I'm Serious.net. But she was fascinated at seeing if the things she saw in these game-based learning designs could be relevant in other disciplines. This past year she developed noozYou as a vehicle for testing some of her hypotheses about purpose-driven game design in journalism with Mizzou journalism students.
She can tell you about this far, far better than I can. So I am going to suggest that you follow her on Twitter at @aderryberry and @noozYou. It's been fascinating stuff.
I WILL tell you she's been advising the Sage Road crew as we've been pushing our own predictive analytics horizons. We think this approach holds great promise and has immediate, direct positive implications for the new kinds of data collection opportunities.
I continue to believe the most immediate opportunity for demonstrating the value of learning analytics in institutions and enterprises is to mine existing pools of data in creative and thoughtful ways. But Stephen Downes was absolutely right in his April 24th critique of my post Data Change Everything. He said that some of the emerging learning analytics paradigms will benefit not from mining old data new ways, but in looking for better ways to collect new information. Here is one very exciting new possibility for doing just exactly that.