I'm an avid exerciser, but that doesn't mean I like to exercise. Like many people, I find that forcing myself to take that jog often requires an act of will. But recently I purchased technology that has inspired me, if not to enjoy exercise, then perhaps to dislike it less. The small pocket-sized device records the number of steps I take, flights of stairs I climb, and calories I burn. At intervals, it wirelessly syncs up with my laptop, iPad, and an online dashboard to give me an update on my fitness progress. It flashes messages such as "Move It," "I Like U!" and "Good Job!" When I reach certain goals, such as 10,000 steps taken or a pound lost, it sends me congratulatory email messages. Online, I earn badges for each milestone and see how my progress compares to that of other users.
I'm now more motivated to exercise than I've ever been, just to see those numbers climb. In short, my fitness regimen has been "gamified."
After I spoke with the University of Pennsylvania's Kevin Werbach and Temple University's Steven Johnson for "Gamifying the Classroom," I realized that such technology isn't just great for my health—it also could transform the classroom. Both professors are using gamification to encourage their students to go beyond course requirements. Students are motivated to see their point totals rise for performing certain tasks, and they're excited when they receive emails cheering them for surpassing a new goal. In the article "Game On," we also learn how Duke University's Fuqua School of Business is using gamification in a different way: to motivate its stakeholders to engage with the school.
Business schools are exploring the possibilities of not just gamification, but also social media, Big Data, and other innovations. In "The Intersection of Business and Technology," we hear from IT experts at several universities, who discuss how quickly technology is driving change. In "Social Media: How Tweet It Is," MBA graduate Sterling Morris explores how business schools are using—or, in some cases, not using—social media to their advantage. And in our Technology department, we discuss the phenomenon of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, which enroll tens of thousands of students in a single class.
Business educators have their hands full adapting and adopting new technologies. When the "next big thing" comes, they'll have to adapt and adopt all over again. As they accomplish each technological goal, most will receive no badges, no extra points, no encouraging emails. But they'll be taking part in one of the most exciting and experimental periods that higher education has ever seen—how motivating is that?