A web App to Implement Gamification in the Classroom

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NameA web App to Implement Gamification in the Classroom
A typeDocumentation
Subject: A Web App to Implement Gamification in the Classroom

Authors: David Smith, Adam Smith, and James Smith

Recipient: Y Combinator or K20

Date: April 2, 2016
Many, if not all, of the students in every stage of the educational system grew up surrounded by video games. These students have shown that they are willing to spend hours a day playing games for virtual rewards that have no value in reality. On the other hand, adolescents are not devoting sufficient time to their own learning - a reward that will eventually result in economic sustainability. This document does not attempt to address the reasons that motivate a person to allocate a great portion of his or her time to something devoid of real benefit and ignore the tasks which are paramount to viability in modern society. To exploit the attractiveness of virtual games and motivate students to vigorously pursue their studies, the research and voices of many educators advocate gamification. This document presents a web app that allows educators to implement gamification in their classrooms.
What are games?
To understand gamification, we must understand games. To understand games, we must define them. Sadly, no single definition of games fully captures their essence. To keep things, let’s say that games are activities that people willfully do because they are entertaining. This definition definitely does not apply to every single game, but it is useful because it capture two relevant details of games:

  1. Games are entertaining and people want to do them

  2. Games involve willful interaction

Games come in many shapes and sizes. Games can generally be classified into 3 categories: video games, physical games, and games by name. Video games are games that are simulated in video devices, like TV screens or computer monitors. Physical games are games that involve physical things like boards or puzzles. Games by name are activities that we call games mostly because they are entertaining, i.e. tag. Knowing that games come in many forms is important because shows us that gamification can be used in many different ways. This gives us the tools to adjust gamification application to maximize the benefit.
What is gamification?
Gamification is the application of turning undesirable activities into games.

Because games are inherently entertaining, people will want to do them. We can therefore use gamification to get people to things that they would otherwise not want to do. The most obvious example is in schools. Never has there been a majority of students that have enjoyed school. Sadly, this is the world we live in and it is something that we just have to deal with. Gamification, however, allows us to turn that majority in a minority, by getting kids to do schoolwork under the mask of games.
Because games involve willful interaction, the encourage future interaction. Gamification cannot be a long-term solution. At some point, people just have to be professional and do what needs to be done. But starting this process can be very difficult. Gamification helps us ease people into this process by allowing people to do it under a more harmless setting. In essence, gamification is a tutorial that eases people into various settings. Over time, gamification elements can be stripped away as people learn to do the corresponding activity without thinking much about it. In the best scenarios, people retain the joy of doing the activity without any gamification elements.
Applications of gamification
The ability of video games to captivate the attention of its audience has been noticed and used in a variety of fields. The attempt to emulate this retentiveness of users results in gamification - “enriching products, services, and information systems with game-design elements in order to positively influence motivation, productivity, and behavior of users” (Blohm and Leimeister 203, p. 1). Most notably in recent years, fitness apps like FitBit track steps and create competitions between friends. These programs award virtual awards or trophies when one reaches certain goals. Not only are these approaches innovative, but also extremely effective. NikeFuel “made two million users burn more than 68 bn. calories” (Blohm and Leimeister 203, p. 1). However, The effectiveness of gamification is not limited to fitness app. It has great potential and indeed has already shown its value in educational environments. Richard Landers, a professor at Old Dominion University used a gamification system called GradeCraft in his classroom and found that “across those approximately 400 students, 113 (28%!) willingly chose to take optional multiple choice quizzes” (Landers 2010). Gamification is an effective way to keep students engaged in the material. It is important to note that gamification describes added a game-like structure around the existing elements of the classroom, as opposed to moving all the teaching into a game, or Game-based learning.
Project Description
Our gamification website will be an flexible application that meets the educators needs. The site will support teachers customizing their own classroom to have a variety of features from economies, perks, quest, and student accounts. A key component to web application will be the fact that we want this to be open source.

  • Create an environment that encourages students to do schoolwork

  • Relieve strain of encouragement from teachers

  • Promote long-term interest in students in the subject area

  • Create an adjustable system that teachers can change for their own needs

  • Create a firm foundation that can be built upon and can evolve and be worked on by others.

Other Goals

  • Free to educators

  • Open Source

During development, we want to bring on educators who use gamification within their classroom. Our ears will be open to the education world and address the features they are missing in their current solutions. We also want to perform many usability tests as to make the system as easy to use by educators as possible.
We interviewed Scott Hasselwood (@TeachFromHere - https://twitter.com/TeachFromHere). He is an math teacher who uses gamification in his classroom. He is a Phd. student at the Oklahoma State University. Scott started by building his own gamification setup through using google forms and sheets. This worked for a simple solution yet there was low automation and a large amount of upkeep. Google allowed him to have a free solution that did what he needed. His second solution was to use rezzly. This had quest and did some more automation for handing out achievements/badges. Rezzly did not however handle the economy. An underlying issue we realized that these gamification websites are lacking in design and organization. There were upsides to rezzly. We talked about how his high school students received the gamification change. Our discussion lead to good examples of gamification.
Separate from Scott’s interview, we have posted a form online to receive feedback from other educators to better inform our decisions and proposal.

Interview Transcript - Skype

  • First Solution - Google

    • Google Forms

    • Google Spreadsheet

    • Points

      • HMWK 1 Points

      • Youtube Video 3 Points

    • 1 hour week tops

    • Shortened url (Google Shortened)

    • Webaddress easy to enter

    • Phone, iPad, Computer (Students Use)

    • Problem

      • Asked, Buy Perks (Struggled)

  • Second Solution - Rezzly

    • 1 year - Dr. Stansberry

    • Rezzly.com

    • Paysite, Some Free Stuff

    • Kid Account, create accounts

    • Quests

      • Requirements

      • Points

      • Average Time

      • Rating

      • When its due

      • Category

      • Sharable

    • Copy Back in Forth Between Educators

  • High school Student

    • Freedom over how they chose to learn

    • Figured out the economy system

    • Give economy to buy a perk

    • No economy

    • Disabled scheduling

    • Controlled Behavior

    • Organize the classroom

  • Resources

    • Class craft

    • Class dojo

  • Ideas

    • Google Sign with School

    • Habitca

    • Edmodo

    • Google Classroom

    • Fitbit platform

Says gamification is the wrong response. At least that it is lauded too much

GradeCraft in use at University of Michigan, got $1.88 million grant

Overview of benefits of gamification

Professor got an NSF grant for gamification and made his own website

Research Paper on Gamification in learning environments

Research Paper: definition of gamification and exploration of its applications

Blohm and Leimeister

Book with 34 articles


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