Gamification so far has been great! I love that my administrators have given me the freedom to go with this model and have been supportive in providing encouraging feedback about different issues that have developed. Most of these issues have been very minor and nothing big enough that I can even recall them right now…
Over the past few weeks I have had time to really think about how to make it better, tighter, more involved. Here are some of the things that I have struggled with this year and my thoughts on how to improve going forward.
Issue: Getting the students to purchase things from the market. A comment made by a student was that a couple of the items were too good to use. When I pressed for more information on this, his answer was enlightening: “Sometimes you want the item, but then never use it because it is too good – use it and its gone. What if I needed later?”
Solution: Have the students suggest items that they would like to be able to purchase and work with them to create a fair economy. Nothing too expensive or too cheap for what it provides the student.
Issue: Some of my students will work super hard, get a little bit ahead, then sit around and hang out. Wasting time they could be creating artifacts that they could share with others. Then when they start to get a little behind – they turn on the afterburners again.
Solution: I need to be more aware of this situation developing and use my teacher genius to help students see what kind of cool things that they can do. Even though students are working at their own pace – I can give all students goals and rewards to reach each week. Right now its all kinda vague – I just ask the kids to work (which most of them do).
Issue: Getting the students to want to take a few days to work on a specific artifact to document their learning. Right now they try and squeeze everything into one class period, often creating decent work, but not super, duper awesome items.
Solution: Offer double points to go with the better market system. A couple of my students started doing this over the past week and I allowed them to earn double the normal credits. This seemed to light a cool fire in their eyes – they truly took time! I loved watching them work over several days (and a lunch for one kiddo).
One other thing that I will try and do is tie all of the rewards into a specific game/thing. This year all of the items that I have created in the market are all over the place: genie lamp, potion of wisdom, etc. But next year I will try and put all of these things into one common theme. I never even thought about this during my development process.
I am already thinking in my brain: everything in the market relates to Doctor Who (tardis, sonic screwdriver, cyber-man, companion…), or Zombie Apocalypse (full body armor, blood transfusion, fall-out shelter…), or SnapChat (the students are already here, why not make it a game), or Angry Birds (boomerang, triple shot, ice breaker…). I could still tie the reward that I want them to have into the process, just need to change the name to tie them all together.
I will also create a game board for the students to see, that way they know what is coming and how they can use it. I sort of did this this year, but not in a way that was linear enough for the students to follow. I had layouts for each quest (unit) but I have been the only one using them (even though copies are out in my room, even though I have handed them out). I need to take the time to give them a map, complete with levels they can achieve and when they can achieve them, locations of special item drops, etc.
Totally stoked to continue this journey!!