This past year I tried my hand at gamifying my classes after reading Lee Sheldon’s Multiplayer Classroom. It was quite a failure. The class didn’t feel like a game. Kids didn’t show the level of engagement I was after. After going gradeless and offering kids more and more choice to take charge of their learning I hadn’t seen enough improvement in levels of student engagement so I decided to try gamification to improve my program and engage more and more kids. The gamified approach, well, my first attempt, was very lackluster. Besides the lack of a game feel and similar engagement as before I gamified there were other symptoms. Very few kids were adding badges to show what standards they were mastering on their personal blogs. When I added experience points (XP) for completing parts of a project (quests) kids didn’t keep track of the XP they were earning. After the school year ended I asked kids to take a survey where I asked for some feedback on my gamification attempts.
Turns out my system was too confusing. I also had very few gamers, if that made a difference. Out of 135 kids only a handful admitted they were gamers. I am still shocked that there weren’t more. Not sure what to make of that. Those who were gamers, and even some who play games casually, thought the idea of gaming was fun and that the badges and XP were cool. They just weren’t sure how to get them. The results were disappointing because it’s symptomatic of a larger problem. Being confused about how to calculate XP or which badge was available is understandable and I can fix that, but many kids who knew what badge they earned didn’t put them on their blog because it was too difficult. I feel bad when kids don’t do something just because it’s too difficult. Learning how to add embed code to a blog to add images or videos is a cool skill and I have students who never mastered it!
While I will still show kids how to add snippets of code to their blogs to add photos or video I will not be doing that with badges anymore because I found something awesome. I found 3D GameLab (3DGL). TheÂ 3DGL has an interface for managing projects or quests and makes getting XP and badges easy! It’s exactly what I need. So I took the plunge and paid for a full year ofÂ 3DGL for me and my students. I even splurged to get access to what they call Teacher Camps, which are online courses about different Game-Based Learning (GBL) topics. It’s exactly what I needed and what I love and fully appreciate about the courses is that they’re all presented using the gamingÂ 3DGL interface and we, the teachers, take the courses like we’re playing a game. Exactly the way our students will take our courses and play our games (complete our projects)! It’s a great example of teaching the teachers with the same best practices we’re expected to teach the kids.
So I will reflect on howÂ 3DGL helps my students engage with my Science curricula through a gaming experience. While I’m learning some cool stuff at the teacher camps I will post follow-up blogs on the different GBL topics.