Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Five Reasons to Gamify your Classroom

First, what is gamification? It brings video game elements (leaderboards, levels, missions, badges) into a non-video game atmosphere (classroom, fundraiser, campaign) in order to increase participation and motivation. If you want to dig deeper into this concept, I would recommend Tom Driscoll's gamification series (scroll to the bottom of this link).

This ideas was very intriguing to me. I jumped in quickly with Tom's resources and then ordered Lee Sheldon's book, The Multiplayer Classroom. Inspired, I designed a gamified unit on Imperialism, complete with an alien invasion. It was successful and taught me some things I would change for next time. My current plan is to work on planning an entire semester of gamified US History. This may be a crazy, but here are five reasons I am planning to do it.

Reasons I want to Gamify:

  1. Student Engagement. Games motivate us. Even as adults we get a thrill from advancing through a progress bar. Countless apps for teens and adults use awards and leaderboards to keep us coming back for more. Don’t we want that for our class content?
  2. Allows you to fail. In a video game it is very common to not make it through a level on your first try. Its not a big deal, you learn from your mistakes and try again. As much as we want our classrooms to be this way, teachers and students have a difficult time living in this culture at school. 
  3. Helps build student confidence. Games are designed to intermix easy and difficult levels at just the right time. Missions (assignments) start out easy, building student confidence so they feel equipped when they advance to a more difficult level.
  4. Holds students to a high standard. Unfortunately many students are playing the game of school, just collecting points and going through the motions. They often turn work in that is “good enough.” Gamification requires that they meet a minimum standard before they move on, if they don’t they must re-do it (see #2). When I tried it out this year students would try to rush through, but as their papers were returned with only one star, they learned to slow down and do it right.
    1. Allows me to work toward Standards-Based learning/grading. Each mission demonstrates a particular standard, throughout the year the student builds a body of evidence that they meet the standards.
  5. Builds community. Students are placed in guilds. While they may complain at first of some members bringing their spot on the guild leaderboard down, eventually they learn to encourage and help each other. Furthermore, individuals don’t want to disappoint their guild so they make sure they are caught up. In my one attempt this year, I noticed student grades were up and I feel that this and other factors contributed to it.
What do you think? Are these good reasons? What would you add to the list?
Undecided or opposed, check out my next post where I try to get you to talk me out of it.

1 comment:

  1. Kaelyn, note the annotations that you provided for each item. A good habit to develop as a blogger.