Lighting Fires

By Ish Stabosz
Center for Creative Instruction & Technology
Delaware Technical Community College
Stanton Campus

A week ago, I shared an article about professor Lee Sheldon’s Multiplayer Classroom, in which he designs courses to mimic the style of MMORPGs (such as World of Warcraft) and lights a fire under students on the first day of the semester by announcing “You all have an F”.

A few days later, I had the opportunity to attend the RECAP conference at West Chester University, where Karl Kapp gave a keynote address on the engaging millennials, particularly through gamification (see my reflection on his speech here).

My interest in gamifying the classroom significantly ignited, I  began much research and brainstorming on the topic. I’ve been binge-reading Sheldon’s book over the weekend, staying up late into the night thinking about how I can transform my fall ENG 102 course into a game, still hit all the MPOs, and avoid breaking any college-wide policies. Amidst my research, I came across an infographic (scroll down to see it) from Knewton, which offers some insight on why and how gamification works.

One element that the infographic hits on, which is also at the core of Lee Sheldon’s model, is that players earn points for every success in video games. The way classes are typically structured, however, makes it feel more like students lose points for every failure. The typical course begins something like this: “You’ve got a 100% average right now. Every assignment you don’t do perfectly on is going to bring that down.”

Sheldon’s method doesn’t change the math, just the approach. It’s more like this: “You have a zero points right now, and that makes sense because the class just started. Every time you prove that you’ve learned something, you’ll earn more points.”

I don’t know about you, but that would’ve certainly lit a fire under my unmotivated 19-year-old butt back when I was a student.

Gamification

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

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