(Source: Edutopia.org)

Game-based learning in the classroom is not new as students compete for points by way of grades on a daily basis. Where it becomes interesting is when the concepts of game design are applied in a more meaningful, real-world way to engage students as creators and problem-solvers for any number of issues they may encounter locally or globally. Upon viewing the above video from 2008 with Professor James Gee from Arizona State University, and reflecting upon the advances in gaming which have occurred in the almost nine years since, I immediately began to see connections to the Genius Hour projects my students work on each Friday.

Whilst all students have a choice in the projects they wish to pursue, I wonder if gameplay could be added to the types of projects they choose. Teaching oneself to play the guitar is no small feat and would certainly earn XP points as a student advances with his/her skill; however, teaching an English class once a week for a group of newly arrived elementary-aged refugee students and conducting empathy interviews with them to see what these new friends might need demonstrates an outward focus, and a deep commitment to make a positive impact on the world: triple the XP! Even if transportation were an issue, students could still engage in projects that benefited others rather than self.

Further, various awards could be earned for completing a tutorial to improve the content and design of the required weekly blogs and peer reviews. Rather than merely earning the motivating XP points for meeting expectations, manual awards and even badges could be earned for exceeding expectations with style through the use of well-thought examples and images. The same would be true for the embedded Vlogs they’ll record: meet the expectations and receive XP points. Exceed them through thoughtful attention to content, setting and camera angle, along with careful editing before uploading, and additional awards are earned. I’m still researching the best way to organize XP as well as translating those points to grades. Adam Powley, an award-winning History teacher in South Carolina, recently wrote this blog post about the process he uses for doing just that.

I love the possibilities that GBL offers, and am eager to begin experimenting with one unit at a time starting with The Great Gatsby using Rezzly, a game-based content management system co-created by Boise State’s Dr. Chris Haskell. I know most students will respond favorably, especially with a leaderboard they can consistently reference to chart their progress. The goal here is engagement, Mastery-Based Learning, skill acquisition and growth throughout the year by pursuing meaningful projects which will benefit others, and may even help shape students’ life paths after high school.

I’d love to hear from you!

How have you experimented with game-based learning and what were the results? Alternatively, how might you experiment with GBL and what steps are you taking to implement it in your classroom in the fall?

Let’s experiment together!

*Post updated on 7/13/17

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