Gamifying Education Towards a Culture of Learning

Delvin Solkinson
Thursday, 13th December 2018

Delvin Solkinson has spent 16 years developing learning and teaching tools. Here we have several of the games he's created to help with learning permaculture, with plenty of free resources for everyone to access and try.

"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. 

Key: Turn some of your lectures into interactive games. Gamify part of your teaching practice. 

Taking teacher trainings from permaculture pioneers has yielded opportunities to develop and share free open source learning tools while helping inspire other teachers to create their own. 

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

Here are three ways that I have done this. You can use my resources or use the pattern to create your own.

Permaculture Design Core Curriculum Notes 

What can educators do to foster real intelligence?…We can attempt to teach the things that one might imagine the Earth would teach us: silence, humility, holiness, connectedness, courtesy, beauty, celebration, giving, restoration, obligation, and wildness.” David Orr

Worksheets and handouts make the curriculum accessible and easy to reference. These can be a way to turn lectures into interactive discussions. Sometimes the worksheets are passed around and people alternate reading points and discussing. The facilitator can drive and inform the dialogues with explanations as needed. The participants can illustrate and explain concepts in relation to their own experiences. Sharing the core curriculum as handouts can free up the learner to take less notes. Having the core important points organized and outlined can support further study and deepening of the information explored in a more experiential way in the classroom.

Key: Create a well designed set of worksheets to share your core curriculum no matter what kind of course, workshop or program you facilitate. Organize and share the core curriculum from you teaching practice with worksheets.

Fair Share: 93 page book is a free download here:

Special thanks to Kym Chi and the many others who edited and helped develop this work.

Unlock: Can you articulate the core points from a lecture or power point and turn them into a worksheet to hand out to class participants?

Utilize: While outside in a beautiful and functional place, have students take turns reading points from the worksheet while you speak to each point in more depth and other students can share examples and applications or ask clarifying questions.

Permaculture Design Core Concepts Deck

"Study Nature, Love Nature, stay close to Nature. It will never fail you." Frank Lloyd Wright

Nature is an operating system, run by the brilliant principles identified by permaculturalists through the influence of all the worlds wisdom traditions and indigenous understandings about how nature is designed. A driver for the success of nature through history, the underlying ethics, attitudes, strategies, protocols and design methods from our ecosystem can be identified and applied to our own permaculture practice for learning, teaching, designing and consulting.

Discovering the potential of card decks for gamifying education from Robin Clayfield at Crystal Waters, I learned how fun and engaging learning can be.

Key: Take core concepts or images from your teaching practice and put them onto cards. Develop a game to explore the cards with, including an interactive and kinaesthetic aspect.

Fair Share: 180 card deck is a free download here:

Unlock: Can you take the core concepts identified in your worksheets and identify how to organize them into a card deck?

Utilize: Hand the cards out to people before a walk through the landscapes. Instruct participants to consider an example that illustrates the concept on the card. If possible they could also share a unique application of the card in their own. Ask people to jump in and share their card when appropriate within the time frame of the walk.


Permaculture Design Elements Deck 

The core of permaculture is design and the working relationships and connections between all things.” Bill Mollison

Understanding all the different technologies, resources and elements that may fit on your design site can help you discover the most appropriate ones to integrate. With the goal of an effective, efficient and ethical design, it can help to consider the placement of parts in relation to the whole.

At the Bullocks homestead on Orcas Island I learned from Michael Becker the value of having a map with movable parts for designing, consulting and teaching permaculture. This is a super fun way to learn and apply design principles and concepts.

Key: Develop your own all ages garden and farm permaculture design game by collecting a set of objects that represent structures, plants, animals, pathways, fences and all manner of technologies or elements that may be found in a permaculture garden or farm.

Fair Share: 108 card deck is a free download
Unlock: Can you draw pictures of elements you have or want on your permaculture site and use them with a large base map?

Utilize: Print out a large base map of a real site, ideally the site the class is happening on. After observing the site directly, place elements on the base map. Now add any new elements and move around existing elements in order to apply permaculture principles, strategies or design methods to upgrade the site. Consider how to close energy loops, create harmonious groupings of elements, catch and store energy, and use appropriate technology.

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’.” Rowe Morrow


Sharing templates for developing teaching and learning tools has become a passion of mine. Joining forces with other educators to help evolve and gamify education continues to bring joy into my practice of learning permaculture. 
Here are a few other locations to get outstanding permaculture design learning and teaching tools 

Delvin Solkinson has spent 16 years developing learning and teaching tools with the inspiration, guidance and mentorship from time in advanced courses and teacher trainings with Bill Mollison, David Holmgren, Rosemary Morrow, Toby Hemenway, Robin Clayfield, Larry Santoyo, Michael Becker, Geoff Lawton, Looby Macnamara, Scott Pittman, Robyn Francis, Mark Lakeman, Patricia Michael, Starhawk, Bullock Brothers, Tom Ward, and Jude Hobbs. His work is intended to help share the wisdom, teachings and lineage of these permaculture pioneers.

Sijay James of Onbeyond Metamedia has designed the information I have collected, organized and articulated with natural patterns and artful graphic elments. My materials are free and open source, sharing fairly with anyone interested in deepening their practical understanding of permaculture design and enlivening their ability to share permaculture with others.

After 16 years of international study with permaculture pioneers, Delvin Solkinson has condensed his learning into this 202 card permaculture deck. It shares the largest collection of permaculture principles, design methods and ethics available. These cards can support your permaculture practice, learning, teaching, designing and consulting. Delvin has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help improve the cards, make the boxes nicer and boost the deck. If you'd like to suppoer this, visit: