I've been thinking a lot over the past few months if I'm wasting an opportunity by letting this drift into the rearview mirror...or if there honestly isn't really anything else I can do with it right now. Sure, I could continue giving my same presentation to many different events if I wanted (and on occasion I still do for various district PDs) but eventually, I'm going to need some new material. To continue saying the same thing over and over, to continue to find new people to "introduce" to gamification, ultimately seems like a dead end. It seems silly be to talking about the same thing over and over.
And yet, I've seen many conference colleagues spend years presenting the same "welcome to Google Apps for Education" presentations and be continually hailed to much acclaim. I've seen people introduce "Flipped Learning" at these events, almost ten years after the term was coined, and they're held up as "gurus" and "innovators". I sat through a session last year on a great new social networking site called "Twitter" and how it can be useful in education. These presenters either see great value in sharing the same thing over and over...or they're just super late to the game. If this model is successfully working for people...should I be following the same pattern...or are they just "men behind the curtain" selling marching bands and 76 trombones?
I think the problem, for me, is that my real vision for gamification has never quite been realized...and I feel it's currently being pulled into a behaviorist mainstream. As much as I've gamified my course, my Senior students are still very traditional...partly because they have six other "traditional" courses when they leave my room each day, and partly because they've already had 12 years of a traditional model. It's very difficult to institute any change last minute. Additionally...I teach English. It's a lot of fun, and many students like it...but it's a required subject. No matter what any teacher does, there will be some students that don't really care, or don't engage, or don't want to be there. Ideally, Gamification would be a series of fun, engaging, actual problems to solve that actually pulled the students in and met all state standards. While we're able to do that at times...sometimes students still have to do some traditional tasks (i.e. Read the book, write the essay). These are essential skills which are worth doing...but they don't really fit well with the Gamified model.
As such, I'm a little stuck. In my current setting, there's only so much I can change my courses because I have to meet a curriculum. On the other side, the "main-stream" gamification is quickly becoming a purely behaviorist system more similar to Starbucks punch-cards and frequent flyer miles than what it actually could be. Sadly, I haven't been able to get it to where I want it yet to make an acceptable alternative...and thus we all linger on in this limbo.
I think that's the real problem with technology, innovation, and teaching. The classroom teacher (due to logistics, new courses each year, standards, curriculum, and hardware) is limited in the amount of change they can actually put into their classes (without getting in trouble that is). And yet, if a classroom teacher pushes the boundaries a bit...they can leave the classroom...and immediately lose their chance to work with students and maintain their credibility. After that, they end up setting up Kahoot! accounts, turning on 3D printers, and introducing "Google Docs" and calling it "The Future". As for me...I'm currently taking it easy and trying to consider where to go next. I don't want to waste an opportunity and let a window close...but selling the same old thing without actually seeing anything change isn't something I'd be great at.
Is educational technology still worth sharing...or are we just replacing our posterboards with Canva, our raised-hands with our Socrative, and our email with our 3DGameLab. Is "Making" just "Tech Ed" under a different name, and STEAM just a way to sell Coding software? I know there's a better use for all this stuff...but it's nowhere to be found. Yet.