Woot! Let’s Play! (Leveling-Up Education Though Gamification)

Let’s play a game…

(Note: Please see my next post on ClassCraft for the best tool there is to gamify your classroom!)

Here is your character:

You can earn Experience Points (XP) for doing good things (like doing extra research or providing an insightful / creative answer). But you can also ‘take damage’ and lose Health Points (HP) if you stumble.

Getting enough XP gives you the ability to learn new powers which you can use if you have enough Action Points (AP).

You will also earn coins which you can use to customize your character and buy stuff.

With me so far?

Award yourself 200XP if your answer was an enthusiastic ‘YES’ Take 5 HP damage if you’re waiting for an app link.


Gamification in Education

What is gamification in education?

  1. Integrating games into teaching to motivate learning.
  2. Replicating the characteristics of games in the classroom to engage students.
  3. Both of the above.

(Still reading? You’ve earned a 200XP bonus! Nice one.)

Take 5 HP damage if your answer to the previous question was 1 or 3.

Award yourself 200 XP if you answered Option 2.

If you’ve reached 400XP, you may now learn your first power: MAGNIFICENT THINKER. This power gives you the ability to use the words ‘gamify’ and ‘gamification’ in every day conversation without feeling silly. Example: “I think it’s time we gamify the staffroom! Let’s award badges for professional development – which, once we have enough, can be used to buy a day off exam invigilation or one less break duty or have the headmaster make you your morning coffee for a week.”



Characteristics of Games

Have you ever played a computer game? (Select the highest level applicable to you and take the associated XP.)

  1. I MMORPG in my sleep. 400 XP
  2. I upgrade my computer hardware every few months just to get the best graphics and performance from my games (and because lag kills). 400 XP
  3. I have a monthly budget for games and I have a Steam account. 350 XP
  4. I have a console and play at least once a week. 300 XP
  5. I LURV games like Plants vs Zombies, Candy Crush, FarmVille and The Sims. 300 XP
  6. I get obsessed with games like Plague and World of Goo for a few weeks and then often don’t play anything for long periods of time. 200 XP
  7. I play online chess – does that count? (Yes! Take 200 XP.)
  8. I tend to play mainly word and / or number games. 150 XP
  9. I play something on my phone while I am waiting for the dentist. 50 XP
  10. I have a ‘Games’ folder on my home screen with more than three games in it which I try now and then. 20 XP
  11. Games are stupid. (Take 5 HP damage.)
  12. I am bored and will skip the rest of this post. (Fall in Battle. Optional: Come back some time and respawn. You will need to play a few games yourself and then begin reading this post from the beginning in order to regain XP.)

Achievement Unlocked! FORTITUDE: Take 200 XP

Watch this for a further 400XP:

Move to Level 2 if you now have more than 1000XP. Learn your next power: OPEN-MINDED: You now have the power to either have a bathroom break or to get up and make yourself a warm beverage before returning to this post.


If you’ve ever played a game you will recognize some of the following characteristics of games:

  • The best games allow you to customize your character, your powers, the kind of gaming experience you prefer, the narrative and more.
  • A lot of the appeal has to do with earning rewards which usually are easy to begin with and then get more and more difficult to earn. The best games constantly push you to improve your skills. The worst games get easier as you get more proficient.
  • The rewards add up and result in the player leveling-up. Often, new powers and achievement statuses are associated with more advanced levels. This is one of the driving factors behind why gamers can be so engaged while playing.
  • Rewards and achievements are given in real-time. As are the consequences for poor game-play.
  • Games follow a narrative, very often with characters going on a quest or a mission and having to meet objectives along the way.
  • The most serious consequence of getting something wrong is losing a ‘life’ or respawning – but because they can renter the game with minimal damage, this encourages gamers to experiment and try different things in order to beat any challenge.
  • Games encourage collaboration and team work. Even single-player games have community forums, walk-through and online support groups.

Gamifying the Classroom

Challenge: Look away from your screen. How many of the 7 characteristics of games can you remember? Take 50 XP for each one you remember. In addition, if you remember more than 4, a team mate heals any Health Points you’ve lost. If you remembered 4 or less, lose 5 HP.

Gamifying the classroom involves taking the characteristics of good games and applying them to teaching and learning.

My favorite tool for doing so is Classcraft. I will be writing about this wonderful gamification tool in my next post. But there are others. And it seems as if a horde of new gamification tools are on the way.

And the benefits of gamification? There are many, but one stands out above the rest: engagement. I have seen my students running to get to class, and I sometimes almost have riots when they try to earn XP for doing something wonderful. Also, I can now reward them for displaying the skills that really matter in a twenty-first century classroom: critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and independent problem-solving. It has quite simply changed the dynamic of my classroom for the better. Woot!

Your final challenge, dear reader, is to continue the gamification journey in the way you would most like to. Please select one or more of the following options:

  1. Think it through for yourself. How can you translate the characteristics of the best gaming experiences into your teaching? How exactly does a gamified classroom function and how is it different? Can you gamify the learning experience without digital technology? Publish your thoughts as a comment below to earn 1000XP
  2. Read my next post on ClassCraft and how it is revolutionizing learning. Then try it yourself and let me know how it goes on Twitter. 800XP (2000XP for sharing)
  3. Conduct a Google search and learn for yourself, you #edupunk you! 1000XP
  4. Read this great post: 10 Specific Ideas to Gamify Your Classroom 800XP




To level up to Grand Mage status: Apply the principles of gamification in your classroom and watch engagement soar!




















Additional resource: Videos for Teachers Interested in Gamification



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