The story of Flappy Bird, a free app game created by Dong Nguyen, has been spreading throughout social media the past few weeks.  After the game’s popularity and revenue skyrocketed (approx $50,000 per day) and Nguyen was thrust into the spotlight, he announced that he could no longer take the impact on his previously “simple life.”  Therefore, he pulled the app from the app stores.

There are many who have been blogging about programming and business lessons learned.  I am going to focus on lessons learned (from an education perspective) from Nguyen’s Flappy Bird.

A Challenge Makes You Crave More

The game itself did not possess amazing features and graphics. It was very simple with Super Mario-like graphics.  So why was the app so popular?  Because it was challenging.  The game was easy to play but very difficult to master.  How does this translate to the classroom?  Students should be exposed to challenging tasks.  Tasks that are intrinsically motivating and enable students to feel confident with the appropriate balance of challenging content that requires critical thinking and problem solving.  The appropriate balance of “easy to play” and challenging content can make students crave more!

Communication and Networking is Motivating

In the early stages of the Flappy Bird craze, players began to tweet about the game.  Nguyen would interact with fans and players through Twitter.  The game’s popularity was fueled by players reactions, attitudes, and experiences with the game via social media.  Tasks are more motivating if students have the opportunity to reflect on their experiences with other students and the teacher.  Whether its Twitter, Edmodo, or Blackboard, educators should create platforms for students to share ideas and reflect on their learning.

Long Term Goals

Nguyen did not expect his game to be a huge success.  The early days of Flappy Bird saw dismal activity.  Nguyen did not have a strategic plan with long-term goals. He did not plan for the level of success that he eventually experienced.  School leaders develop action plans frequently. Are we planning for a huge success?  Do we have action steps and goals that will address potential obstacles and challenges along the way?  What about teacher lesson plans.  In our development of learning units, are we planning for what student success will look like?  What happens if learning occurs in a different way than we expected.  Strategic planning is key to success.

Game-based learning has gained leverage in the 21st century classroom.  The education world can learn a good deal about challenging content, motivation, communication, and strategic planning from the gaming realm.

Image Courtesy: Among Tech

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