Gameification was an unexpected part of Writing 220, and a kind of grading system which I’d never used before. For the first time, I was starting out with a zero and building towards a 100%, instead of the typical system of starting out with a 100% and trying to stay as close as possible to it. I actually rather like the switch, and I think it’s a more encouraging and productive fashion of assigning work to students. With most classes, I check the schedule for exams and papers, see what the minimum amount of homework I have to do is, and skip everything that’s unnecessary. Classes are about getting the best grade with the minimum amount of work, so students are constantly thinking how to get out of doing things, which turns the class into a chore. With gameification, however, the mindset was completely different. Looking at the grid and the possible assignments, the objective was completely the opposite: we had to figure out how we could do more in order to get more points, which was very motivating and got me thinking about the class on a more involved level.
Making the switch was definitely a struggle at first, trying to figure out how to get these points while learning about new kinds of creative platforms at the same time. Probably the hardest part for me was trying to juggle all of these different parts of the class, which for awhile were seemingly-unrelated. Class exercises, blog posts, ePortfolios, annotated bibliographies, reflections – they all came together at the end, but it took a little bit for it to all to make sense. The freedom we had in the course could either be a gift or a curse, depending on how organized you were and how willing you were to seek help (something I didn’t do often enough).
Depending on what kind of person you are and how your school year is going, Gameification can either be a gift or a curse. I found it kind of amusing that my perception of the system would change based on my mood, how I would subconsciously word the requirements differently if they were working for or against me. At the beginning of the semester I often thought, “Great! I get to spread only five blog streams over the semester? I can knock those out no problem!” As things fell behind and got more crunched, it more closely resembled, “Crap! I have to squeeze in five of them? How the hell am I gonna get these done on time??”
Despite my own difficulties, I feel as though gameification is a good system for ensuring that students get involved with the large variety of projects necessary for an intro course. With the blog, the exercises, the annotated bibliographies, the major projects, and the different platforms for sharing work, I feel much more prepared to handle these different assignments in the future.
I was wondering how other people handled gameification, and what kind of problems they had. Any unexpected difficulties, or major successes? Do you prefer the usual system, or did you enjoy this shift from the norm?