April 29th, 2012 | Technology
[ Check out my latest post on the HP Security Blog: “Thoughts on the Heartbleed Bug” ]
Gamification is a trend in technology right now where people are given micro rewards for accomplishing discrete tasks, such as completing a programming exercise, or completing an online profile, etc. It’s essentially a way to incentivize things that people don’t want to do.
And now one idea is to do it for homework. So, giving little badges to people who complete an assignment or something.
In my view this is precisely the wrong thing for people right now. We don’t need tricks to get people to do what they’re already supposed to be doing. Instead, we need to be telling people the opposite: that there are some things that suck, that you have to grind through, and that successful people are those who are able to do this consistently until a goal is reached.
If you play this incentives game with people then it will train them to give up when no such scaffolding exists, which is in most places that matter. It’s hard to go to college. It’s hard to raise kids. It’s hard to do many things, and people shouldn’t be taught that when things get difficult they should look for a kudos badge.
Self-discipline is one of the primary components of success. Let’s nurture that instead of trying to artificially engineer a way for people to be successful without it.
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