This week at work I have been starting to plan and prepare a new unit of work on Gaming. Then on Saturday I watched a TV program about the history of gaming, and the leaps in technology we have had. It left me thinking of nothing but games, and how I could bring the world of gaming into my classroom.
I don’t just mean bring computer games into the classroom, the wonderful @TimRylands has been doing this with the likes of Myst. The definition of Gamification is the use of game design and mechanics to enhance non-game contexts. I want to bring this ethos and mindset of a computer game into the way I teach, and the way the pupils learn. As children growing up we learnt so much from the world of video games. We learnt timing, organisation skills, morality, and more importantly, right from wrong. The biggest thing I would like to see though is the sense of achievement in the pupils. As a gamer I like nothing more than getting some obscure, challenging achievement point in my latest Xbox exploits, and I want children to feel the same in my room. So I started thinking of how. How could I change my teaching style to accommodate this, and what resources will I need. After a bit of thinking and tinkering I have come up with 3 points below.
One of my 1st steps was to think about how I could use gaming to assess the pupils progress and track their work. Badges are popping up everywhere in games, with players collecting achievements as they progress through games. A great online resources for this is Class Badges. The site provides both you, and your pupils, an account you can create your own badges to pass out to pupils. Pupils can login to see how many they have, and what they need to do to get the next achievement badge. To make this resource as effective as possible I wanted to make sure the badges went beyond the small and trivial. I decided to go through level descriptors and fit them to the badges. This means that when the pupils receive one they get a fun badge to collect, but I get a quick and easy way of knowing where they are and how they are progressing through the levels. Something that I really concentrated on was the descriptions. I wanted my pupils to know what they needed to do to get to the next level, and understand what they needed to show me in order to get it. I am hoping this will really promote pupil engagement, and see a good increase in motivation.
Add a little competition
I personally don’t feel we offer enough competition in schools any more. In my experience small tournaments or challenges work fantastically at incentivizing pupils and getting the most out of their work. Everyone wants to see their name at the top of a leaderboard! Challenge classes or pupils everyday when they are in your classroom. These can be simple little tasks like making sure they bring their homework, or seeing who can get onto the extension activity. I plan to award my classes Experience Points based on their behaviour and work level in my room. How well do they listen to instruction? How many skills can they show me in their work? All of these things could add up to points on a leaderboard. Which class will be top at the end of the term or year? To give the EXP points more gravitas I want to keep them up to date at all times, maybe a job for my digital leaders. I also want to publish them online, either as part of a gaming blog, or on school website. Has anyone tried working with something similar?
Think about the language
One of the smaller changes I want to make is the language I use in the classroom, and how I use it in things like displays. The world of gaming has it’s very own language and this is something I want to embrace and adopt in my ICT lessons. When trying a new program with a group I will have a class of Noobs. Instead of pupils I will have players. I want to have Zones in my room or on my network. Could I bring in Hardcore or Legend levels of work for my more able, or help out the lower ability with beginner or intermediate level work. Our pupils are already using this language on a daily basis, and have a full understanding of what it means and how to use it and apply it in their computer games, why not do it in the classroom?
What do you think about Gaming in the classroom? Have you used something similar or are you already running a gamified classroom? I would love to hear from you! I hope to report back in a few months with how it all went, and hopefully some more tips and tricks as I go!