Sunday, February 17, 2013

In it to Win it: Gamification and Edmodo

Jessie Miles teaches art at Marshall and Jackson Intermediate Centers in the South Bend Community School Corporation. She’s also taught at Rise Up Academy, South Bend’s Alternative High School. She is currently working on her Master’s Degree in Education with a Focus on Technology through IUPUI online.You can learn more about Jessie at her website.

When today’s students play video games, they will play the same level over and over again. Failing the level is not discouraging, but rather seen as an obstacle to overcome in order to reach their goal of winning the game. However, take these same students out of the gaming world and place them in the classroom and their minds have changed. In the classroom, their intrinsic motivation of self-learning and discovery is lost. Video games are engaging. Today’s classroom may not be as engaging.

Student created avatars for the gamified art class.

If you were to step into my classroom, you would see and hear things that you probably wouldn’t see and hear in a “normal” classroom. You might hear a student ask how much XP they currently have. Or, you might see a wall plastered with what looks like printed images of scrolls with quests written on them. You might even hear a student say something like, “Sweet! I only need 20 more XP to level up!” If you have ever played a video game, you might know what my students are talking about.

The "Quest Wall" describes the current projects students can work on in class.

The reason my students are discussing levels, badges, XP, and quests is because I have gamified my classroom. I came across the idea of gamification, which is simply the application of game mechanics to non-game scenarios, while researching new methods of designing learning environments. I was searching for a way to better motivate my students and to get them engaged in their own learning. I knew this was a perfect fit for my 5th through 8th grade students, most of whom would classify themselves as gamers. Gamification uses both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to get students involved their learning.

Video by Richard Culatta - speaking at DevLearn 2010 about Gamification

My class now runs like a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). Instead of projects, the students now have quests to complete. Instead of grades, the students receive experience points (XP), and they can check how much XP they have by looking at their XP bars projected on the whiteboard. I created a quest wall in the room so students could see if they were missing any projects. Students also have the possibility of earning badges for completing additional work in the class such as cleaning up a mess they didn’t make or helping another student without being prompted. The students’ badges are displayed on their Edmodo page.

Edmodo badges on profile page

Edmodo is a social-networking site for schools. I use this great Web 2.0 tool as a way for my students to communicate and collaborate online. Their first assignment in my class was to design their avatar, or their character in the game. I am currently working on creating digital images of those drawings so that each student can use that image as their profile picture for my class. With Edmodo, each class has a class wall that the students and teachers can post anything from notes to assignments or polls. I’ve used the wall as a place to check in with students and to post announcements for the class or information on current quests. Edmodo also allows the teacher to split the class into smaller groups. Currently, a few of my classes are working on creating their own board games. The students are collaborating in small groups on this assignment. They can post their ideas and questions for only their group members to see.

Edmodo screen shot of class discussion.

Teachers can also use Edmodo as a digital planner and calendar. They can keep track of their students’ progress in the class by posting grades and badges in the progress page. These badges also show up on the student’s profile page so everyone else can see how many badges their classmates has accrued. Teachers can post YouTube videos, Google docs, and other reference materials in the class library page. Edmodo even has an apps page in which the teacher can install apps (both free and paid) to benefit the class. A few apps I have installed are the SchoolTube app, Class Management app, and the Aviary Photo Editor app. The students’ parents can even get in on the Edmodo action and log in using a specific parent code to be able to see their child’s grades, badges, and other class information. Edmodo is a fun and user-friendly social networking site that can also be a great addition to any classroom motivation techniques, even if your class isn’t gamified.

The Challenge:
Have you ever thought of gamifying your classroom? How can you use some of the ideas that Jessie presented in your classroom?

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