Developing teaching and learning behaviour based on game principles, that is what ludodidactics is all about. Using the tools, methods and materials presented on this platform, solutions can be created whose users would not describe their experiences as a game experience; they would define it as ‘hard work’ or ‘serious work’ or even ‘meaningful work’. Always keep in mind, that ludodidactics focuses on people, rather than technique. Traditional teaching is often based on content, or material. Ludodidactics is, instead, based on learning behaviour and the learning experience of the student. Ludodidactics are the fusion of ‘thinking and acting like a game designer’ and ‘thinking and acting like a teacher or pedagogue.
A different approach
Incorporating ludodidactics in your music education practise does not only change the learning process itself, it also will change how you approach the entire learning experience for the student, starting at the earliest possible stage: conception and preparation. Where a more traditional approach would focus on just preparing content, like selecting the applicable exercises and compositions, in ludodidactics there is more involved: as a ludodidactician you are investing relatively more time and effort in designing the entire learning experience and constructing a system before the student is placed right in the middle of that system. Conversely, the teacher (designer) frees up more time while the student is engaging in that experience, leaving him or her more time and energy to spend on other aspects of the educational process, like observing and monitoring behaviour, provided that the designing is done well and proven to be effective. A well-developed ludodidactical way of working puts the initiative completely in the students’ hands. The instruction, feedback and progression have to be maximally embedded in the design. This means that a well-executed ludo didactic design, is a design in which your energy contribution is not needed for a successful execution. During his interview, Willem-Jan Renger speaks about this phenomenon most eloquently, about when he saw his students working enthusiastically in one of his first educational games in a self-propelled manner: the design of that experience seemed to had taken care of the motivational aspect of the learning experience, hence releasing him from his role as a ‘performer’ and motivating engine within that process. It also changed the necessity of constant policing the students’ behaviour (e.g. correcting, maintaining discipline, issuing warnings, forcing their focus etc.) in group-lessons, as they were wholly engaged in the process and tasks at hand.
Sidenote: it is important to state that ludodidactics is by no means the same as ‘gamification’, which borrows components from games and game design and uses these as independent elements in order to make something that already exists seem more attractive, but without changing its primary function. The contributing experts on ludodidactics have quietly resigned to the fact that the term ‘gamification’ is much more known and possibly more widely accepted, but it has to be repeated that ludodidactics offers a far more comprehensive and in-depth implementation of gaming principles in the domain of education in general.
Extending your didactical repertoire
The mix-platform does not aim to replace everyone’s current style of teaching with ludodidactics. Within music education there is such a wide range of pedagogical techniques available, that ludodidactics can hopefully be seen as just a welcome new addition to your didactical repertoire as a teacher. Nevertheless, ludodidactics can offer an unique new approach on how to deal with issues like motivation and autonomous learning that have been challenging to music education professionals, especially in this day and age of quick paced media and countless diversions for young people. Ludodidactics is put forward here, hoping that it will equip music education professionals with an important new tool to help them support their students and pupils in their development.
“We are concerned with good education. Education that is fascinating, gripping, and riveting for young and old alike; that makes the cheeks flush or instigates laughter. Education that sinks in, inspires and doesn’t take itself too seriously, but is taken seriously.”
Willem-Jan Renger & Evert Hoogendoorn (Ludodidactics: design for didacticians, page 6)
Becoming a ludodidactician
The contributions on this platform about ludodidactics are derived from the didactical methodology as it was developed in the Netherlands and is being taught at the HKU (University of the Arts Utrecht). The articles and contextual topics are more than just an appetiser for ludodidactics, but it is safe to say that there is more to this subject than can be covered here. Nevertheless, it introduces some of the first building blocks of ludodidactics and hopefully will help you in taking your first steps as a ludodidactician.
For any education professional that is seriously considering becoming a fully fledged ludodidactician, there are several courses available at the HKU (University of the Arts Utrecht). Would you like to learn more about education that’s based on game principles? And play the role of game leader or designer? Then the blended summer course might be right for you, if you want a compact course. The course is for lecturers from all sectors of education, trainers, educators and education developers who are looking for new forms of education and knowledge-sharing. But, not everyone has the possibility to take a complete Master’s course or can free up time for an intensive one-week course in the summer holiday. That’s why there is the Individual Course in Ludodidactics, which is in line with the ludodidactics material given within the Master of Education in Arts. Please take note that both courses are in Dutch at this moment. Please visit the website of the HKU (University of the Arts Utrecht) for more information.
- Renger, W.J., Hoogendoorn, E. (2019). ‘Ludodidactics: designing for didacticians’. HKU Press.