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July 3, 2014 | Volume 9 | Issue 20
Table of Contents
No Technology Required to Gamify Your Class
Linda T. Darcy
Applications like Class Dojo, Socrative, Nearpod, Zondle, and Play Brighter dominate most conversations about gamification in education. This focus on technology and apps automatically alienates some teachers who may think, "I don't have any computers in my room, so that leaves me out!" Game over.
Not so fast—it is possible to gamify your class without technology, even without electricity. This is because to "gamify your classroom" means to use game mechanics to motivate students. The characteristics of a good game are the same, whether that game is on the Internet or in a box with dice and a board.
There are several factors that make games so engaging. Games give us instant, constructive feedback and let us try again, using this feedback to go further in the game. At their center, games are stories that players must navigate. As players progress through the game narrative, they create an iteration of the story that is uniquely their own. Video games are scaffolded. In the beginning, the tasks are easy, requiring simple skills. As the game progresses, the quests become more difficult, and the final "boss fight" (the most difficult quest of all) requires the players to exhibit mastery of all the skills used previously in the game.
With these tenets in mind, teachers can encourage game-like engagement in the classroom by following these five practices, none of which require technology. The target age group here is middle school, but many of these tools, tips, and techniques would work in any grade.
Any teacher who is interested in gamifying their class need not wait until the technology is available. Using game mechanics to motivate and engage students can be done anywhere, in any grade and subject, regardless of the availability of snazzy devices.
Linda T. Darcy is coordinator of professional learning at Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) Magnet Schools in Hartford, Conn.
Source: Reprinted with permission from The Educator's Room.
ASCD Express, Vol. 9, No. 20. Copyright 2014 by ASCD. All rights reserved. Visit www.ascd.org/ascdexpress.
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