Introducing the Game

I have  teased that I will be Gamifying a unit to my IGCSE Business students but today was the first day we really discussed what it would look like. I openly told my students that it is a work in progress and any positive or negative feedback would greatly assist. For example, when I first introduced the idea of the game they were firmly against any type of public leader board, even if it was just for the top few people.

I first introduced badges and explained how these could be earned. Initially when I looked at creating badges I hoped to use Mozilla Open Badges but instead went with Class Badges. I saw a tweet from Kelsey about Class Badges and after playing with it I was sold as it is so simple.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Dan Slaughter

Though my badges aren’t finalized, my thought process was to utilize project based learning in order to earn badges. I split my badges into individual badges and team badges. So far I have awarded more XP points to the team badges in order to promote team work and helping each other succeed vs competition. I am still trying to figure out the best ratio on team XP vs individual XP and will be discussing it more with my class. Here is a snapshot of some of the badges students can earn:

Individual Badges

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Dan Slaughter

Team Badges

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Dan Slaughter

Entire list of badges so far

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Dan Slaughter

A  theme of my badges is that most everything has to be shared on our Google+ Community.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Dan Slaughter

I look at the community as a way to empower and take ownership in one’s own learning and by producing quality work, sharing it with classmates and hopefully have them learn from it; I believe their is potential for great satisfaction.

One hard part with the badges is that one can’t get half a badge. You either get it or you don’t. Therefore I informed my class that when they submit the necessary work to receive the badge, I will be the judge to confirm whether they earn the badge or not. If they have not met the requirements, I will give them constructive comments so they can re-submit.

My students naturally noticed that team badges are worth much more and grew concerned about this, especially my strongest students. One badge that especially concerned them was Quiz Champions. To earn this badge every student in the group will have to get at least 85% on every quiz of the game. There is no limit on the amount of times quizzes can be taken though they can’t be taken more than once a day. I asked them why I did this and an astute student replied, “so we help teach our teammates who are struggling.” Perfect.

So students don’t only try for the minimum to get a badge, I have also included two caveats:

  • Above and Beyond badge: Awarded to students and or teams who produce absolutely top notch work. An additional 10% maximum XP points will be earned.
  • For Hexagon Masters, Producers, Researchers and Market Analyzers (all major projects), teams will fill in a team member evaluation (including themselves). If a student stands out in this evaluation they will earn an additional 10% XP points

These last two caveats seemed to settle my high performers as they will still have opportunities to get additional XP points.

Next I introduced Reward Cards and the grading system.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Dan Slaughter

This got my students the most excited and also the most freaked out.  They loved the reward cards but felt 3 minutes is not enough time on their phones. The grades worried some since I have decided XP points will actually contribute to their grade. A final number hasn’t been decided but I am thinking 65% with the remaining 35% coming from tests. I’m not a huge fan of tests but being an exam driven class, I do recognize their importance.

Admittedly the grades part freak me out too as I am still not sure how the numbers will work out. The numbers in the picture above are no where near final but I need to think carefully of my expectations in receiving badges and make sure the game isn’t too hard or too easy.

The last thing I explained is that every week students will have the opportunity to nominate another students good deed. This does not have to be someone on their own team. If I feel the good deed merits it, the nominated student will have get to draw one random “reward card.” I will also make additional reward cards to add a bit of surprise.

After all this and answering questions I saw a mixed reaction. The biggest concern was who will be on one’s team. Some students thought it sounded like a lot of fun while others felt they still didn’t quite get how it would work. No one had strong feelings against it.

We talked as a class and then I told them I would leave the room and let them discuss on their own. I explained that nothing I have shown is set in stone and their feedback would be greatly appreciated.

5 minutes later I came back and overall it looks they bought into it. The biggest concern was making the teams fair and I told them I will do my best to do this. One surprise was that the class decided they did want to have a top 5 leader board but with no names attached to it and I said that sounded great.

I have encouraged students to add more comments on the Google+ Community and will continually to seek out their advice as we play. One thought I had was giving a weekly survey about the game where they rank a variety of categories 1-10. I expect this unit to last approximately 10 weeks so I could have some interesting analysis to reflect on in the end.

Next up will be finalizing the game and building a site to put everything. I’m looking forward to how it will turn out.


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7 Responses to Introducing the Game

  1. Dan, I’m so glad you shared this. I have a bunch of thoughts and questions and reactions swirling, so if some of this response seems chaotic, I apologize. First, some reactions:
    – I’m excited about your description of badges; I’ve been struggling with those myself and think your combining XP and badges is a great idea, I can see creating a kind of mini-quest or side-quest using this model as a great addition to my class.
    – I think your decision to allow students to retake quizzes is going to reap rewards. When I did this, every student re-submitted until they achieved an A on almost every activity or quiz over the semester. Being able to re-try after getting feedback about what they did and didn’t know appeared to be highly motivating.
    – I like the above-and-beyond badges; I’m definitely going to steal that idea

    Some thoughts & suggestions
    – students might be freaked out by the points, but if the ability to earn the points is in their control (ie: not restricted by the pace of assignments etc) my experience is that they’ll rise to the challenge. I predict you’ll have higher than usual grades this unit.
    – what about letting (making) the students create groups that are well balanced, class-wide? Give them the responsibility to divide the entire class into groups that balance strengths and experience. Maybe even give a small point value to the job. Give yourself a small number of ‘executive overrides’ to move people between groups, or the ‘full re-do’ (requiring them to start over because of too much imbalance); maybe even give the class as a whole one or two vetos in which they can unanimously reject one of your changes (but not a full re-do). Keep them at it until they, and you, are satisfied. You might be surprised how well they’ll do.
    – One framework that might work is Game On, a framework plug-in for a WordPress site that allows you to gamify your class; built-in point system (you assign the point values to tasks you list on the site; students earn points automatically when they complete a task, with an optional requirement for teacher approval before points assignment; built-in leaderboard, etc.). It’s in very active development and maturing weekly.

    That’s all for now, but I’d love to chat further with you about this; it sounds really exciting. Feel free to contact me @matthewm1970 or matthewm1970 on G+. I’m presenting a 2-hour workshop at ASB Unplugged at the end of the month; would it be OK to mention your work? (I don’t have any other economics/business examples.)

    And again, thanks for posting this, I’ve gotten several great ideas!

    • Another thing I just remembered for group work. I can’t remember where I ran across this, it might have been Michael Matera, but I can’t find the reference at the moment. Anyway, one way to solve the group issue in which one student feels they did more work, or most of the group feels one student did less work, is to assign a specific number of points _to_the_group_ for the assignment. Then they distribute them however they choose, but all members must agree on the distribution. For example, if you have an assignment worth 50 points and a group of 5, they can earn a maximum of 250 points for the assignment. They do a pretty good job and earn 220 points (using rubrics it’s easy to scale up the values assigned so you can easily figure points for the group). You give the group members a sheet that says they have 220 points to distribute and they all have to write down how much they choose to assign to each member, _and_sign_it_. So far, in my limited experience with this method, they’re pretty fair about it. I would make sure to tell them ahead of time that this is the method, so there are no surprises.

      • Great idea Matt. I will play out what I have so far and see how it goes but may use that if adjustments are necessary or if I make another iteration of this game or another game.

        This actually sounds similar to an idea my wife had that she uses in grade 5 where they make a pie chart to visualize the amount of work various members put in.

        Thanks again for the thoughtful comments and I hope ASB Unplugged went well.


  2. Matthew,

    Thanks for the great response and I hope it helps in your process too. I glimpsed at your blog posts and your own journey and they are awesome. I will definitely be commenting and sharing notes as I continue my journey.

    On your group suggestions, I will bring it up with my class and see what they think. The game will last one unit (approximately 10 weeks) and I do need to be careful how they are set up . I already think I will change one of my team badges to an individual badge so students have a bit more control. I also like the idea of “executive overrides” and need to think if that is something I need to pull out.

    Game On sounds great but I am going to try Google Sites. I know this sounds limiting but will be a challenge for myself which would be good since my school is a GApps school.

    Overall this will be a learning experience and don’t be surprised if I reach out to people like you for help.

    Feel free to use my work in your presentation and good luck at ASB Unplugged!


    • Dan, sounds like you’re thinking carefully about your choices and making them deliberately, which bodes very well for your game and your students. I’ll be eager to hear how things develop. Thanks for the permission!

      Here’s a leaderboard/scoring sheet I developed in GApps for my class; may be overkill for one unit, but may have ideas you can use. Feel free to contact me with questions, ideas, celebrations, etc – I love to collaborate with other teachers about building games for the classroom.

  3. Andy Hoang says:

    Thanks for the heads up on both the badge systems gents. I’ll give them a go this week.



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