Saturday, January 25, 2014

Gamifying the Class, but not the learning

Blogging Challenge Day 10

Gamification has a certain appeal to me.  Gamification is applying game type mechanics to the classroom.  Students earn points, badges, and can "level up."  Gamification at its best is a good motivator and helps makes class fun and engaging for students.  

It appeals to me because I loved video games growing up.  Many hours of my life were spent playing Nintendo and blowing the dust and static out of the bottom of those cartridges.  

Gamification of the classroom is a little worrisome to me.  I got into standards-based grading because it made the focus the learning and not the points.  Gamification seems to put the emphasis back on the points.  

However, I had two brainstorms recently in terms of gamification.  
1. Math Team
I think gamifying math team practice and points earned during the year could really help motivation.  I could award points for finishing extra practice, watching help videos, scoring points during competition, making help videos, etc...  A leaderboard is nothing new to math league as I always keep current standings posted in my room during the season.  Badges could be given for different accomplishments, scoring points, making the team, a perfect paper, as well as other things I hope to think of later.  This definitely has some possibilities for next year...

2. iPad expectations
I posted a while ago about iPad expectations in the classroom.  I am worried about students' proper use of technology in the classroom.  Of course we can use our discipline policy to help, but this seems so punitive.  Gamifying the expectations creates the possibility of mainly rewarding positive behavior and sometimes, when needed, punishing negative behaviors.  Using a google doc to track points for students would be pretty easy.  Teachers would just have to decide how to awards points and badges.  I am sure there would be issues, but I think this idea has some potential.  The students could compete as individuals, or we could have them form teams.  

Now I just have to find some tech resources to make the leaderboards and badges as easy as possible.  


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