So I’ve met with both classes now (one class twice), and have the whole gaming thing in motion. I am not positive, but out of all of us I might be the most excited about it. And that’s ok. I’ve been looking forward to this for months.
Getting everything going was a significant amount of work, but I think I have found my stride and that it will all scale down a bit. The work was mostly me getting myself organized. Each person had to have their own spreadsheet. This is simple enough. But as people have started to work on quests I realized it would require a more careful tracking than I had first envisioned.
For example, let’s say that you decide you are going to engage in the blogging quest. You write a post, and that post is worth 500 XP. I can document all of that very easily. Where it gets tricky is when we get into achievements. See, as you move through the quest earning XP, you will eventually earn enough XP to qualify for a badge within that achievement.
What this means is that I can’t just document XP. I have to group everything together by the type of quest a person is partaking in. Otherwise I will lose sight of when to award badges. That gave me a headache for a day or two until it got sorted out. Now I think it will be easy.
Other Things I Learned This Week
The majority of my students chose to engage in the navigator track. I think only two students chose to go a traditional route. Some students have told me that everyone is choosing navigator but they plan to following the traditional route to some extent. They like the flexibility the navigator route gives them but also like that I have provided them with a map for their grade on the traditional route. Which makes me wonder why the people who chose the traditional route went that way. You can select navigator and follow the traditional route – because you select your own path and due dates – but you are free to veer off in any direction at any time. Of course, on the traditional path you can still do extra things. Who’s to say what guides the thinking here?
Finally, two new quests were invented this week for both classes (The Dear Abby Quest & Tweet What You Learn). An additional quest, Teach Me How, was invented for my Content Area Literacy classes. I love that I have the freedom to invent these quests on the spot as it makes sense to do so, and I’ll be writing about them in more detail in future posts. None of these quests are required, but some students have started to engage in them. They were invented in response to a need or a question or an experience that arose within one of my classes.
I continue to look forward to how this plays out over the course of the semester. I’m interested to see how students choose to earn their XP and how they approach doing it. While I was initially concerned about so many students selecting the navigator path, that concern appears to be unfounded. Most people have already earned some XP, and I suspect it will continue to trickle in over the course of the semester.
Leigh, I was curious as to whether or not anyone in the cohorts had picked traditional paths. It’s so interesting how conditioned we are to “need” structure and deadlines. I think you’re right, though, that this group in particular will not submit everything at the end or, hopefully, not in an influx for you. I think we are a pretty disciplined bunch and that trait yields the need to space things out and remain in some sort of pre-determined schedule. I’d be curious to see how gamification works in a group without that demeanor or thought process. I think about what would happen if I presented this to my third graders too early in the year. I almost feel like I’d have to spend half of the year teaching/instilling structure so that in the second half of the year they’d have the choice whether to continue with it or deviate. Time is so critical in the younger years, I think, as students are learning some of those foundational organizational skills and understanding what organization means for them as learners. Now that I’m understanding more about how this course works, it’s not quite as overwhelming and I’m excited to see where it takes us. Thanks for all your hard work in making it happen!
Two people in the other cohort have chosen the traditional route. Regarding the potential to getting slammed: One thing that could be done is to tell students they have to earn X amount of points in a given time frame in order to be on track with an A, B, C, etc…I could have said that by the end of September, you all needed to earn 1/3 of the points or something like that. I will probably game the course for my undergrads in the spring, and I will likely provide a bit more structure for them.
You could also make due dates for certain quests. Students might choose not to engage in a quest OR they could choose to do it after a deadline for fewer XP. I think there are some workarounds here.