Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gamification - Rules of engagement

Image courtesy of Clarita

As part of the gamification of my classroom and the use of gaming techniques for learning I am using my blog as a base for my viewpoints on using it as part of my teaching style, collecting the viewpoint sof my class, observing their learning and how they work during the lessons and reflecting on the use of gaming techniques. I have been given a boost in using these techniques from my Head Teacher who has asked me to demonstrate them to other members of staff. I only have to look at the faces of engagement of my pupils to realise that something is working and to listent to the feedback from my teaching assistant who has enjoyed the past 4 days immensely.

Rules of engagement
  1. You must develop a strategy if you want to employ the use of gaming techniques in your own classroom teaching and learning. You can't just add game playing onto a lesson as an extra layer. Granted, using the winning of points as a motivator does work but winning points is only a small part of game play.
  2. You can use game play techniques as a one off lesson but be prepared to extend the time you give to that lesson as the children will demand you to let them complete it, just like they do when playing a real game.
  3. Try to develop a strong narrative around your plan, build a story involving characters that children can relate to. They love power struggles, mystery, adventure, thriller, action - just look at the game titles that are popular with your own class and create a story loosely based on one of those as an idea.
  4. Be prepared for everything to fall apart, for your class to struggle at first before getting it. You will also find this difficult as you have to let the learners learn for themselves as far as you can. Guide them, facilitate learning when required, ask open ended questions and stand back. It's difficult but an essential part in my opinion so the class can discover solutions themselves.
  5. Don't be afraid to include challenging questions and investigations, in fact the more challenging the better as I discovered when I had included a problem that encouraged the class to use digital time even though they had not been shown how to do so by myself.
  6. Do include levels of challenge that will engage all learners regardless of ability.
  7. Allow pupils to return to stages of the game to replay them if they feel they need more time. Just like real games, replaying offers the gamer a chance to refine their skills, practise and learn from their friends.
  8. Game play learning encourages cooperation, collaboration and noise, lots of noise. So let the class get on with it, they will be discussing the problems they are facing in the game. It's a pleasure to listen to.
  9. When writing your narrative based on your plans make sure you have a clear ending. Games have endings so your game play learning must also have one.
  10. Get into character when introducing the game to your class, play atmospheric music to build the excitement, if the class have avatars that they use for online work then use these as part of the game.
  11. Class avatars are incredibly useful during this type of work and can be used effectively as part of the point winning process.
  12. Points are important, design how many points each part of the game will have and stick to it. When the class reach a certain total reward them. I am using 50 points for effort, 100 points for completion, 100 additional points for group work. Further points are awarded for additional skills used during the game. My class target for this week is 20,000 points. They are currently on 18,520.

These are my own ideas for using this method of learning. They may change over the weeks ahead and most likely will improve as I discover more about the use of gamification in the classroom. I hope you can find them useful too.