Game ON!

controllerGamification does not mean you turn your whole class into a game. You can, but gamification does not have to be that drastic. Using the ideas or components of gamification to get students more engaged in the lesson can enhance even everyday parts of the curriculum. And have a little fun, too!

The next three posts will look at Gamification components. I have eleven components planned. In the research on gamification you will find different names than what I use, but overall the ideas are the same.

Let’s look at components one through four.

1. Compelling Narrative

We love a good story. Think about your favorite book or movie. How many times have you read that book? How many lines do you quote from the movie? Games are no different. Not every game has a serious storyline, but the idea is there. Monopoly: become a millionaire. Clue: A detective story. Video games today use cut scenes to enhance the story line.

So how does this work in the classroom?

I see this component of gamification the closest to the “why” of a lesson. If I want my students to be better writers, I can build a story about a newspaper writer. Stories don’t have to be complicated, but should reflect a realistic connection to your unit of study.

How can you build the story? Tellagami is a great tool for that. You can create a “character” that tells the story, like a cut scene. If you use a LMS you can write out the story or embed the Tellagami.

Other tools: iMovie, Wedio,, iFunFace,

 2. Challenges / Quests

Challenges are what the students actually do. If you take a second to think about it, your curriculum is already set up for gamification. In fact, school is a quest (sadly for too many students it is to get through the days until they graduate) to gain grades and credits to graduate.

By tweaking the wording of your present lessons to match a story line, you have just gamified your curriculum. Many times if you choose to allow students extra credit, that becomes a quest for them.

3. Loot / Perks

Do you have a homework pass option in your class? Or bonus point questions on tests? Do you have a buy 5, get 1 free coffee card?

Loot or Perks are added bonuses for a game. Not every game uses this element, but it does add flair to the game. Even in video games, many of the options are for customizing the character. Yes, at times, the perks are to upgrade something to make the game easier (think of Monopoly and upgrading to hotels).

And the loot doesn’t have to connect to the game for a classroom. Students can gain “points” but the rewards can be free time, a snack, or having the chance to ask you a question on a test.

4. Immediate Feedback

As educators we already know how important feedback is to learning. It is hard in a regular classroom to give feedback right away. If you gamify a unit, the students will expect immediate feedback.

This is where a LMS can help with that if you automate some of the challenges. Students can see their results as soon as they hit submit. But if you do not have a LMS, you have to think about how you can give that feedback or how to record points, quickly. Elementary teachers do this all the time with things like sticker sheets. Spreadsheets can help in upper levels, but don’t shy away from the power of stickers.

Grades are a form of feedback, but if you are thinking of gamifying an aspect of your curriculum I suggest not using grades as the feedback. Maybe the hardest part is making sure you give yourself time to provide the feedback–whatever form it comes in. If the student gets a sticker for every 20 points, make sure you plan time to hand out those stickers for everyone.

Tomorrow I look at components five through eight. Share your ideas with me in the comment section.


About jboelhower

I am a husband and a father. I have been in the field of education for over 20 years.
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