Gamifying Education

by Delvin Solkinson, and Educator member who is currently doing a Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design with the Permaculture Association.

Towards a Culture of Learning

"It is a challenge to educators to revive the meaningful geometries, songs, and dances that gave us, and our work, meaning." - Bill Mollison

Education is evolving through the influence of Permaculture Design. Teachers everywhere are exploring alternatives to lecture based learning. Bringing education into the garden and forest gives it a new life along with the ability to engage all the senses, learning styles and types of intelligence. 


Design Unlock: Can you transform lectures and power point presentations into interactive discussions, activities or games? 


Design Example: Permaculture Design Deck


Nature is an operating system. The underlying ethics, attitudes, strategies, principles and processes are drivers for the success of nature through history. These principles are applied by permaculturalists to the design of lives, landscapes and livelihoods. Discovering the potential of card decks for gamifying education from Robin Clayfield at Crystal Waters in Australia, I learned how fun learning can be.


Fair Share: 230 card deck is a free download here

7 Ways to Think Differently set with Looby Macnamara is a free download at printable resolution in different language editions Danish, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Mandarin, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Spanish and Turkish. cards



Activity: Hand the cards out to a group before a walk outside. Along the walk, ask participants to identify an example in the environment that shows their principle at work in nature. Individuals are also invited share a unique application of the card to their own garden, home, project, business or relationship. Along the walk through the garden, farm, woodland or city, participants can jump in with creative ways of understand their principle through its application. Feedback and input from others in the group can deepen this principles game too.

“We often start with details, like what to plant in June. Then we may move to patterns and begin to notice when to plant things or when things need harvesting. To teach, we move from the details of our experience to the patterns and processes that will help other people to learn a something that they to can apply in a variety of circumstances.

The Diploma designs can take ones awareness to a detail level with specific information about a project or site. It can also reflect on the process in order to take it to a pattern level. This yields a meta view, a holistic sense of the design patterns at play. From this perspective we can gain insights into positive patterns to repeat or anchor in, and negative patterns to redesign.” - Looby Macnamara.


Pattern Level Design Key: Identify principles or core concepts that you want to learn and share about, then turn them onto cards. Develop a game to use the cards with. Include an interactive and kinaesthetic aspect. 



Sharing templates for developing educational tools has become a focus of my Diploma through the Permaculture Association. Joining forces with other educators to help evolve and gamify education continues to bring joy into my practice of learning and teaching permaculture. Here are a few other locations to get outstanding permaculture design learning and teaching tools:

“Permaculture education is providing a model by having no boundaries and enabling fields of study to splinter off according to interest, potential and need. Examples include the ecovillage network as well as school gardens which fly off from permaculture, floating away like lovely little sections of seeds which can start germinating elsewhere. Instead of turning us all into brain surgeons, accountants or carpenters, permaculture can produce a diversity of people who go out into society to enrich it. Permaculture people can be of any age or gender because everyone is equally capable of absorbing the materials. It’s an open system with no boundaries, no leader, and no board of education. We are getting back to people centered education. Permaculture seeks to provide people with good, relevant knowledge that they can act on the directive from E. F. Schumacher who said ‘The best gift you can give people is relevant information and knowledge’.”

- Rosemary Morrow