[Note: since the writing of this post Classcraft has undergone some major updates. I haven’t used it since the updates so I can’t speak to those. From what I’ve read and heard the free version is still a lot like what I write about here. In order to use Classcraft more like an LMS it seems like you will need to use the paid version. Then again, I pay to use 3D GameLab so it’s a matter of preference for me and I still prefer 3D GameLab for many reasons not the least of which is all the work I’ve already put into it.]
I’ve used 3D GameLab (3DGL) as my Learning Management System (LMS) for the last two years and it has revolutionized my classroom by truly making it a gamified experience. I tried managing student experience points (XP), quests completed, and badges on my own before 3DGL and it was difficult. 3DGL has made the management part of gamification automatic, freeing me up to give students feedback and help them learn!
Last year I also tried using Classcraft for the first time in a nine-week, 6th grade exploratory course. Kids loved it. Classcraft did a few things that 3DGL doesn’t do. First, Classcraft offered kids actual gaming roles such as Warrior and Healer. Those roles more than encourage team gameplay, the roles facilitates teamwork pretty much making it a must. Second, unlike 3DGL students gain hit points (HP) in Classcraft along with XP and even Action Points (AP) to use their spells (yeah, spells that 3DGL doesn’t have). Third, Classcraft has the option of gaining coins to purchase in game pets and better armor.
Both 3DGL and Classcraft are unique enough and offer so many benefits for making a school course fun. Both are examples and ways to gamify a classroom. Both can work together. I recently read on a 3DGL help forum that people out there are using 3DGL and Classcraft together with their students. I considered that last year and asked my students about it and decided against it.
Part of me wanted to do it and the students in the class I tested it on were all for it so the question is why did I decide against it and why do I struggle with wanting to use them both??
Playing Classcraft, although fun and exciting for the kids, did take quite a bit of class time. One of the coolest features of Classcraft is choosing a daily random event. Even if you don’t choose a random event the teacher still needs to go around giving students feedback by dealing damage or making good things happen. For example you have a team that worked on their class project all period and even helped each other so they will get the XP for that project. The XP shows that they successfully completed the project.
If another team socialized and bothered nearby teams they would take damage and lose HP (hit points represent your life, lose them all and you’re dead – not entirely but it comes with negative consequences making “death” undesirable). So whether you choose random events or just provide students feedback in the way of giving XP or causing damage, the student teams have to respond.
Student teams respond by logging on to their accounts. They have to make choices about how to deal with damage by using, or not using, their spells (AP) and special abilities. If they get XP and took no damage they might level up unlocking special privileges in class or getting coins to buy pets or nicer armor. All those things are very attractive and fun for kids, making your course more fun and attractive, but all of those decisions and actions take time to complete. And if you don’t monitor the kids they can spend a lot of time “playing” Classcraft instead of doing classwork. Sure, you could choose when during the class period is going to be designated as Classcraft time, but that’s still time taken away from your course. Even if Classcraft was only done at home you would run into the kids who have no access at home and they would need class time.
So my question is regarding that time. It’s difficult to determine whether that time used “playing” Classcraft will be worth it in the end because more students are engaging with my course or whether students are losing out on learning Science because they are “playing” Classcraft! And on top ofÂ Classcraft they have to be logging into their 3DGL accounts to keep track of their assignments and labs! I can’t go back to running my class without 3DGL so that isn’t even an option.
So I just don’t know. Is there anyone out there using both of these? How did work for you?
I’m so torn between really wanting to use both, one for managing student work and the process of gamification (XP, badges, leveling up etc.) and the other for pure gaming enjoyment with actual gaming roles, versus just sticking with 3DGL.
In the end I decided to go with 3DGL only. It’s January 2016 and I haven’t used Classcraft at all with any of my classes. [Added August 24, 2016 – Considering how much time Classcraft takes that is NOT related to the course you teach, I am still not using it at all. I’ve heard from other teachers who use Classcraft that they also think it takes more time than they are comfortable with “playing the game.”]