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Gamify Your Classroom

A Field Guide to Game-Based Learning


Matthew Farber

This book is a field guide on how to implement game-based learning and «gamification» techniques to the everyday teaching. It is a survey of best practices aggregated from interviews with experts in the field, including: James Paul Gee (Author, What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy); Henry Jenkins (Provost Professor at University of Southern California); Katie Salen (Founder, Institute of Play); Bernie DeKoven (Author, A Playful Path); Richard Bartle (Bartle’s Player Type Theory); Kurt Squire (Games + Learning + Society Center); Jessica Millstone (Joan Ganz Cooney Center), Dan White (Filament Games); Erin Hoffman (GlassLab Games); Jesse Schell (Schell Games/Professor at Carnegie Mellon); Tracy Fullerton (University of Southern California Game Innovation Lab); Alan Gershenfeld (E-Line Media); Noah Falstein (Chief Game Designer, Google); Valerie Shute (Professor at Florida State University); Lee Sheldon (Author, The Multiplayer Classroom); Robert J. Torres (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), Asi Burak (President, Games for Change); Toby Rowland (MangaHigh); Jocelyn Leavitt (Hopscotch); Krishna Vedati (Tynker); and researchers at BrainPOP and designers from Electric Funstuff (Mission U.S. games). Each chapter concludes with practical lesson plan ideas, games to play (both digital and tabletop), and links to research further. Much of the book draws on the author’s experiences implementing games with his middle school students. Regardless of your teaching discipline or grade level, whether you are a pre-service teacher or veteran educator, this book will engage and reinvigorate the way you teach and how your students learn!
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Chapter 8. Personalized Learning

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Not all learning is formal—much of it occurs outside the classroom. I have traditional degrees and certificates from university trainings and workshops. I have also enrolled in massive open online courses and watched instructional videos on YouTube. If I take a professional development workshop on Teq’s online platform, I am awarded a badge that can be exported to the cloud, via Mozilla’s Open Badges initiative. This system of informal learning is more personalized to better suit my individualized needs. It is my personalized learning environment!

The current educational model has its roots in both the Industrial Revolution and the medieval university system. Many reformers are rethinking the model of student-earned, teacher-assigned letter grades and social promotion based on birth year. Whyville’s Jim Bower didn’t mince words. “It’s ridiculous to have 32 kids in your classroom grouped by age,” he said. “It’s the dumbest—and easiest—way to group. There’s no reason why that needs to be that way.” ClassBadges’s co-founder James Sanders concurred. “I would love to see the gradual elimination of the idea of grade levels. That we group students based on when they were born and have them progress at the same time is ridiculous,” he stated.

Newer models of personalized learning are delivered in a gamified system. Difficulty automatically adjusts, based on student ability. It is essentially ← 139 | 140 → differentiated instruction facilitated by a computer’s adaptive algorithm. The reward is frequently a micro-credential: a digital badge. In January 2014 I asked the...

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