I found “cool tools for school” mentioned on an education wiki the other day.
I recommend giving it a look, but keep in mind that whether using a pen or 2.0 web apps, tools to help someone write are only tools. I was reminded of this when within 1 day of posting how pleased I was with 750 Words, I missed a day. A month later I have not yet returned to the website. What went wrong? The tool/app is well designed; I followed its program for most of a month–a long enough duration to revise my writerly habits.
What I think happened was that I realized subconsciously that the game was not the goal.
As Jesse Schell has coined, “chocofication” does not work for everything and should be used discriminatingly in marketing, education, or behavior-changing goals because it’s not a silver bullet. In other words, adding chocolate makes a lot of things better, but not everything. We wouldn’t try to add chocolate to cottage cheese or pour it over staplers to induce people to buy office supplies. Gamification of an activity may develop a structural toolkit for the participant, but transferring habits like productive, fluid writing outside a gamified structure is not automatic, nor likely to be guaranteed.
Building a game layer on top of the world is appealing for many of us in education. It promises to change what and how we learn. But we are never playing just one game in life, and we don’t play in just one environment.
For more on Gamification efforts and thinking, check out the Gamification.org wiki.