Kevin Miklasz has worked in and around the fields of game design and education for over the last 10 years. As a trained scientist, he has a PhD in Biology from Stanford University, but has spent his time gaining a smattering of diverse experiences in education: designing science curriculum, teaching after-school science programs, designing science games, running a science and cooking blog, running game jams for kids, doing data analyses to improve EdTech products, and running professional development for teachers and professional engineers. He is currently the VP of Data and Prototyping at BrainPOP, where he leads the data team and coordinates prototyping work on new products. Kevin is also the author of a forthcoming book, Intrinsic Rewards in Games and Learning.
Intrinsic Rewards are why Games are better than Schools for Learning
Although reward structures are successful in games, the types of rewards used in education typically impede the learning process. Badges and other rewards have generally failed to take root in education because of deep-seated design constraints in schools, colleges and adult education that affect what types of rewards get used- the fact that you are using a badge is far less important than how you use a badge. Games have used well-designed, meaningful, intrinsic reward structures, while educational systems have often used poorly-designed, meaningless, extrinsic reward structures. Without dissecting and addressing the reasons for this discrepancy, attempts to revolutionize education in a gamified manner are doomed to failure.