The following post is a presentation handout designed to accompany a presentation. It is not a fully fleshed out Blog post with new ideas and deep thoughts but rather a reference document organizing already posted or outside material.

I have applied a mix of Gamification, Game Design, & Game Based Learning to my classroom over the years, and today I hope to share something useful for you.


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Tools are cool, but a lot of what makes something successful in the classroom is what happens below the waterline. 

I've had so many teachers tell me in conversation that they've tried to use gamification but that it felt, "cheesy" or it didn't work in their classroom. Meanwhile, the teachers who are seriously successful don't appear, on the surface, to be doing anything spectacularly different. No wonder, I get comments like, "I can call my homework a quest and my grades a badge, but the kids aren't stupid." Amen to that.

Honestly, If you observed my classroom for a week, you might not even realize I'm using gamification. My students don't. I do use game based learning, and game design, both of which are overt, but the gamification is entirely covert. I have found that with secondary students, gamification is best used as a foundational principle and not an overt technique most of the time. With younger kids, you can often play it to the hilt, but you still need the foundation to make it something different. Here are some links expanding on the foundational concepts we'll discuss today. 

Foundational concepts for Classroom Gamification

Foundation Concepts for using Game Design


Okay, here's the fun part. Now we're going to dig into the tools available. I will try to focus on free tools as much as possible. I will also try to provide as many mobile tools as possible. There are some web-based tools I cannot neglect, though.

These lists are far from comprehensive, and if you have a favorite I have not included here, please post it in the comments for the good of the cause.

Quest: Gamification Resources

Gamification is the application of game mechanics in a non-game context, such as your classroom management system, your assessments, your grading procedures, etc. in order to increase user motivation and engagement.


Quest: Game Based Learning Resources

Identified on Twitter by the hashtag #gbl, Game Based learning involves using actual games in your classroom that you've selected to reach specific objectives or goals.

Quest: Game Design Resources

Game design is just as it sounds. It's is the process of planning the components, goals, mechanics, environment, and rules of a game. Here I'll provide resources to design games for your students or to have them design their own.

Boss Fight: A realistic gameful activity

Reality & Other Considerations...

We are educators and our reality is far from perfect or pure. As a teacher you know that reality doesn't favor thoroughbreds. Just like pure-bred animals struggle in nature, theories of educational practice, specific tools, or specific techniques, no matter how well conceived, must adapt or die when faced with the wild, untamed environment of the real classroom. That said, I thought I would share some mash-ups that may fit your classrooms more easily.

Mashing things up

Example 1 - A Group GBL Activity: Web + Mobile
For this wholesome blend of game-based-goodness, you can use the following ingredients. Substitutions, as always are fine and recommended.
So, you've found a really sweet game on Games for Change (or iCivics,GameUp, etc.) that totally fits the unit you're working on, provides authentic assessment of your objectives, and is just plain awesome. The problem is, it's a Flash game that needs to run on a computer. The lab is tied up for the next three weeks with standardized testing or study island or some other painful mind-numbing thing.

Have your students bring their devices to class. Make sure they haveSocrativeCelly, or your response tool of choice ready to go. Fire up the game on your computer and project it for the class. Students can work in pairs to increase collaborate and decrease the number of devices that you need to have on the activity. As choices arise in the game, use the response tool to take quick polls of the class on what to do (Quick question feature would work best in Socrative).   

Example 2 - Mobile Game Design: Physical Elements + Mobile Devices
This activity, which is a remix on an old teacher favorite, requires the following ingredients. Again, substitutions are awesome.
You can actually use these ingredients in two ways.
  1. Design a game for your students - It's time to create an engaging mobile game for the kiddos base on class material. 
  2. Have your students design a game - In this activity, students will develop a game based on class material. 
You or your students should be familiar with some game design basics. That's where Game Kit comes in. I recommend reading Find Play in Things and Mix Strategy & LuckMod a Board Game is also very cool if you have some around your room. These also make great warm-ups if you have an abundance of time... yeah, right.

Now you can design a game using common classroom supplies and games only, or you can kick it up a notch (while saving supplies) by taking your design over to your students' mobile devices. Here awesome sweet possibilities to consider:

  • Various Game element apps
  • QR codes for Directions, Game Cards, etc.
    • Place these around the room or school to make the play space bigger or provide context.

Finally, planning games and writing successful directions for games or gamified activities requires an understanding of the five elements of game design (GSM). Make sure that you and your players are clear on:

  1. “What do you do in the game?” (mechanics: collecting, shooting, throwing, solving)
  2. “How do you win the game?” (what is your goal?)
  3. “What limitations have you given players to make it more challenging?" (What are the rules of the game?)
  4. “Describe the game space.” (tabletop, grid, floor, etc.)
  5. “What do you use to play the game?” (components: coins, dice, rubber bands, etc.)


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