By Leischen Stelter, editor of In Public Safety
Who says school is all work and no play? Professor Jason Anderson introduced a redesigned “game” into American Military University’s Open Source Collection (INTL422) course, part of its bachelor’s degree in Intelligence Studies. This “game” gives students experience collecting and analyzing intelligence in real-time, using one of the fastest growing sources of open-source information: social media.
“I wasn’t sure how I was going to fit gamification into intelligence studies,” Anderson said. “Then I decided to use social media as an outlet and turn it into a game.”
Gamification is not a new concept; it has been used in everything from getting kids excited to exercise to feeding the world’s hungry. The basic objective of gamification is to engage users by using game mechanics and game design in non-game contexts. But, there were few specific examples about how to incorporate gamification into intelligence education.
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Anderson started by creating Twitter profiles and feeds. While he curates the information on the Twitter accounts, the game itself happens in real-time. The objective of the game is for students to collect information and verify sources by corroborating information with other open-source and publicly available channels. Generally, students need to combine a minimum of 12 open-source outlets to verify an account.
So what do students gain after they verify sources? Information, of course. Students then incorporate this information into their class projects.
“In the educational setting, the reward we go after is information. There’s an information gap, there’s something we’re trying to figure out and we need to bridge the gap to get to the objective we need,” said Anderson. “Gamification gives you the ability to synthesize what’s important for you,” he said.
AMU is an ideal setting to incorporate this new application of gamification into intelligence studies. As a 100% online university, students are familiar with using technology as part of their learning process.
This incorporation of social media into intelligence collection has a real-world application for intelligence students. As social media becomes a greater and more respected source of information, the intelligence community will continue to refine how it collects and analyzes the vast amount of information on these platforms. Getting this kind of practice inside the classroom gives AMU students a better understanding of what it’s like to collect, analyze, and then apply the intelligence they extrapolate.