As we approach the end of the Fall 2015 semester, we are gearing up to bring GradeCraft to more courses on the University of Michigan campus. We have begun to schedule a first round of consultations with instructors who are interested in making their courses gameful and are looking to add more courses to our list for the Winter 2016 semester.
When considering using a tool like GradeCraft in your classroom, it is important to first examine some of your key philosophies to determine whether or not a gameful course design will work for you and your students.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the gameful environment is allowing students to take the focus off of grades by building up their score from zero points rather than through the traditional system where student grades start at 100% and can only decrease. Our experience and data indicate that the point-based system encourages students to take more risks in their learning by allowing them to fail with fewer consequences than the traditional system. This does not mean, however, that courses are easier. Rather, the intent is to create an environment where students are more engaged with the course material and become more self-motivated and resilient to failure.
Another key feature of gameful design is providing multiple pathways to success. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways – offering an array of assignments or tracks for students to choose from, enabling students to select different modes of completing the same assignment (for instance writing a paper versus creating a video), or even designing their own assignments.
GradeCraft helps to support the logistical issues that come from giving students choices over their assignments and more transparency in the grading scheme. It also allows students to visualize their progress in a course and strategize about their choices in order to plan for their future. If you are still not sure you are “ready” for gameful course design, we have put together a short guide with questions to ask yourself which can be viewed here.
Our goal is to build a campus-wide community dedicated to reimagining course design to support autonomy, belongingness and competence. If you are a University of Michigan professor and are interested in what it may take to make your class gameful, we would love to meet with you! Please sign up here and we will be in touch with you to schedule a meeting.