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World of ClassCraft inspires kids to work hard in school

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Would you have done better in high school physics if it had been gameified? In this BBC report, Mr. Young, a physics teacher in Quebec, Canada, explains that doing just that has made a difference in his own classroom. Mr. Young divides his students into groups of eight, and within each group students are offered the role of a warrior, priest, or mage. Each start out with a few base abilities, and can earn more through the accumulation and expenditure of experience points. How do you earn experience points? By turning in assignments on time, behaving yourself in class, and helping others with their homework.

Each character also has hit points, just like in WoW, and you can lose hit points through poor classroom behavior or missing homework deadlines. If your hit points go to zero, you earn yourself a detention or some other sort of penalty. But your teammates can help you out, too. Warriors, with their large hit point pool, can soak damage, and priests can heal it back. Like this, teams are encouraged to work together and help each other learn the material. Mr. Young calls the whole system "World of ClassCraft" in honor of WoW, which it imitates.

How effective has this been so far? Mr. Young is quoted as saying that it's hard to tell if there's a straight correlation between game and grades, but there has been a noticeable shift in motivation. Students that acted bored or disaffected are actively engaged in the game and have begun to work much harder in class than they did before. As a former teacher myself, I imagine that's a big encouragement to Mr. Young.

One of the most difficult things about teaching is getting people engaged in the material, or getting them to understand why they're learning something that may not seem directly related at first glance. As an instructor, you might know that certain foundations need to be laid before you can move on to "the good stuff" material-wise, but sometimes students have trouble seeing the long game. Mr. Young seems to have hit on a strategy that is working for the time being, and I certainly hope we hear more from him and other teachers like him in the future. With all the doom and gloom reports about failing schools and universities, it's nice to highlight some places where teachers are finding success.

I wish Mr. Young and his students the best of luck!

Filed under: News items

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