So far, I've discussed XP, badges, avatars, and narrative. These are all some of the basic structural elements that should be in place during a Gamified course. While you may not opt for all of them in your first iteration, they all play a valuable role. Once you have that in place, what you really need to do is figure out how grades will play out. This is perhaps the most difficult part of the gamified classroom. Why? Because unless you teach in higher ed, or unless you have a standards-based gradebook, you've still going to need to put grades, points, and assignments into a traditional A-F gradebook. It's not as though you can simply have a list of XP in the grade book for the entire quarter and hope things pick up.
Let me also say that I know there are many great tools out there for managing experience points. There's several pre-coded Google Sheets, as well as the system found in 3D GameLab. Again, these are great for students, and for you as the teacher, but there's going to be difficulty in fulfilling your main gradebook duties with any of these systems.
What are some of the problems of using a traditional gradebook with Gamified learning. There are actually quite a few. 1) Gamified learning using Mastery grading. In traditional grading, a student might get a 74% or an 85% or maybe 92%. In Mastery grading, an assignment is either "Mastered" or "Not-Mastered". For my course, I made 85% the cut-off though this varies from time to time. What this means is that, essentially, a student who gets an 85% on a paper will get full XP (let's say 30XP) as a students who got a 87%. Both have "mastered" the content, therefore both get 30XP. If a student is below mastery, they make corrections, turn it back in, and then still end with 30XP. This can cause issues with the gradebook. Do you put 30/30 in the gradebook or 85/100? 2) Another problem is that grades are positive in Gamified learning but negative in traditional learning. Skipping an assignment in Gamified learning won't hurt you, but it won't let you improve. Getting 0 XP won't lower your total XP, but you'll miss a chance to move up. In traditional grading, if a students skips an assignment, they might get a "0" or "50%" and it will hurt their grade. A lot. But what if that student was simply choosing to avoid that assignment and complete different ones? Should the gradebook reflect this? 3) A final issue is the use of those above Mastery. Imagine two students: one gets an 85% on every assignment, gets "Mastery" and earns full XP (let's say that number is 300). Another student gets the equivalent of 97% on every assignment....but still only earns 300XP because mastery is mastery. What should be done in the gradebook?
These are all valid questions, and to be honest, there's no easy answer. As I mentioned earlier, in my first year, I made grades completely dependent on XP. This was decent, but still led to some abuse and proved difficult to equitable put into the gradebook system. For Year 2, I'm using a different conversation. Here's my grading my Quarter 1:
In Q1- There are 12 "main" assignments which must be completed. (I'll talk about these tomorrow). These range from independent activities to large group projects to multi-paragraph papers. In a typical class, these assignments may be further sub-divided but for the purposes of this course, there are 12 missions culminating in 300 XP available.
100%: 300 XP plus 3 badges (or 350 XP)
96%: 300 XP plus 2 badges (or 330 XP)
92%: 300 XP plus 1 badge (or 310 XP)
85-87%: 300 XP
82%: 275 XP
77%: 250 XP
71%: 225 XP
61%: 200 XP
50%: 150 XP
(Badges can be exchanged for 25 XP up until 300 XP. If any badges remain, they can be redeemed for a Higher Final Percentage.) See the chart above.
So what do we notice? First, mastery isn't enough for an "A". That was the mistake I made in Year 1. Just because you did everything you were "supposed" to do, and "mastered" the content, doesn't really mean you are "Excellent". Isn't that what "A" was supposed to mean years ago? In this course, if you complete all required tasks (300 XP) at the required level (85%), you'll get an 85%. If you skip an assignment or two or three, you'll get a lower score.
If you want an "A", you'll have two choices. You can earn badges (three available) or you can work above and beyond mastery on any assignment. For each of the 12 assignments, I'm offering "Stars" (or something cooler if I think of a better name later). They break down as follows:
1 Star (1XP bonus)- 90%-94%
2 Stars (3XP bonus)- 95%-99%
3 Stars (3XP bonus)- 100%
It's a simple system but what it means is this: If you want an "A", you either need to do extra work outside of the "required" system, or you need to go above and beyond on almost everything. The Star system also allows a good students to skip one, maybe two redundant assignments if needed, and offers struggling students a chance to bounce back if they miss a task.
With stars, badges, and only 12 major assignments, the grade book conversion becomes easier. Badges will appear as assignments which give students an "exempt" or Full Credit. The 12 assignments will contain the students' actual scores (85%, 88%, 91%) as these will be close to the real conversation anyway. At the end of the quarter, I'll make sure the gradebook lines up with the conversion chart above and make sure the XP give the students the grade they deserve. This way, the students can focus on the GameLab XP leaderboard to track their progress, while the nitty-gritty points/grades in the grade book will still be accurately reflected for parents.
One thing I really enjoyed about XP, badges, and other Gamification grading is that students stopped caring about points this year. They didn't ask "can I get bonus" or "what do I need to do to get an 'A'"...the answer was clear. Want an "A"? Get 2000XP. This year, I'll say "Want an "A", get 300 XP plus a badge". If they want a high "A", they'll need to do more. This will let students choose just how easy/difficult the course will be for them, and they can choose which badge(s) they want to purpose. Since most students want an "A", it'll be great to see them better utilized this year.
I realize this was a long post, and likely complicated, but if you're actually reading all these posts, you're already familiar with a lot of these concepts. Let me know if you have any questions on my system, and feel free to share some details from yours.