Sunday, November 16, 2014

Blog Post #13

Blog Post #13 Gamifying Education

In what ways can you gamify education in your future classroom?

a. Watch Extra Credits: Gamifying Education
b. Watch The Gamification of Education
c. Watch Extra Credits - Games in Education - How Games Can Improve Our Schools

     The idea of gamifying education has always been a dream of mine, and I am happy to report that the practice is beginning to gain momentum and attention.  The central theory behind the gamification of education is that progress begets progress, and this essentially means that instead of imposing a fear of failure we should foster a sense of growth.  To put it more simply, a student should not feel as if they have nowhere to go but down as is common in today's classrooms.  Instead, they should feel as if they can only progress towards success.
     This idea of moving forward can be implemented rather simply and without any real change to existing curriculum.  An example of this is:

      Say that you are in a college level course that has four tests as the only grades for the class.  Each of these tests is worth 25 percent of your grade as is shown below.

Test 1  25 points
Test 2  25 points
Test 3  25 points
Test 4  25 points
Total 100 points

     Now subconsciously one would walk into a classroom at the beginning of the year with the understanding that they had an A for the course.  This belief then normally becomes stress as they see that in order to maintain that high grade they must perform adequately on these tests or else they will fall to a failing average.  Now let's take this same class and grading scale and put a gamification spin on it.

Test 1 25 points x 100 = 2,500 xp
Test 2 25 points x 100 = 2,500 xp
Test 3 25 points x 100 = 2,500 xp
Test 4 25 points x 100 = 2,500 xp
Total 100 points          = 10,000 xp

     In this example, I have utilized a style of gamification that is somewhat akin to the leveling system of a role playing game (rpg).  I do this merely out of personal preference as the main point is that the student feels that they are rising instead of preventing a fall in terms of grading, but I digress.  As you can see, the total possible points on the tests have been multiplied by 100 and translated into experience points (xp), which represents the students' progress through the course.

A  -  Levels  90  -  100
B  -  Levels  80  -  89
C  -  Levels  70  -  79
D  -  Levels  60  -  69
F  -  Levels  0  -  59

     As is evident, the traditional letter grading system is still in use, but instead of starting at the top of the mountain and try not to drop, the students will climb from the bottom and and be rewarded along the way with level progression.  Now, each of these levels is gained every 100 xp, so every test is essentially worth 25 levels in this example.  To show this model in action we will use a fictional student named Adam and plug some grades in to test our system.

Adam's grades:
Test 1: 82  (2,500 x .82 = 2,050 xp earned)
Test 2: 90  (2,500 x .90 = 2,250 xp earned)
Test 3: 82  (2,500 x .82 = 2,050 xp earned)
Test 4: 96  (2,500 x .96 = 2,400 xp earned)

Test 1: Rose from level 0 to level 20
Test 2: Rose from level 20 to level 43
Test 3: Rose from level 43 to level 63
Test 4: Rose from level 63 to level 87

Adam's final grade was an 87.5 according to his levels, and he achieved a B for the course.

     In and of itself, this system is exceedingly simple to apply, and the mentality of self-propelled learning that it generates is remarkable.  Another thing to keep in mind is that the example that I've outlined above is purely a bare bones replica.  The true personalization of this method lies in something call achievements.

     These achievements, which are inspired by Microsoft's Xbox achievements, are simply bonuses that students can unlock by going above and beyond what is required of them.  An example of such a feat would be at least ten students getting over 2,375 xp (above 95) on Test 1, and for this achievement all the students could be granted a reward such as a bonus of 100 xp.  This simple reward will also begin to implement a sense of community within the classroom as the students that are naturally gifted in the fields of academia will strive to assist their peers in order to raise their chances of gaining the bonus.  This will also lead the lower scoring students to root for their higher scoring comrades because it will encourage them to succeed as a group.

     Now in order to answer my own question,  I would most definitely make use of achievements such as bonus xp for early completion of assignments, +10% xp applied to a day's homework for group achievement on a test, and possibly classroom wide perks that could be earned as a whole.  In addition to achievements I would of course utilize the leveling system for grades as well as strive to create open ended assignments that would provoke a self-propelled learning mentality.  All in all I am quite excited about applying gamification to my future classroom and giving my students something to strive for.

     Additionally this system can be applied to any number of subjects with relative ease, but the true key lies within peaking the students' collective interest.  One can even expand gamification to tackle a multitude of subjects simultaneously, and entice students to go out and find more on their own.  All of this can be achieved by simply placing the figurative pot of gold at the end of the extra mile, which is honestly where the rainbow lands anyways.

     In closing, I will leave you with a picture titled "The Game" by Hans Peter Kolb.

A picture of mountains shaped as chess pieces.


  1. That looks like a cool and interesting game/project. Good blog post!