SchoolArts Magazine

JAN 2014

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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@r+ Turn Your Class into a Game David Gran M vation as the often-serendipitous crystallization of a new idea from multiple distinct origins. Skocko's curriculum fits this definition perfectly. Skocko had been working on his master's degree in game mechanics and had this idea brewing, but didn't expect Vincent, Ezio, and Semar. These three students had a desire to learn programming code, and Skocko had a need for programmers. Together they created the back end of the Mac Lab's unique gaming system, and Semar was recognized by Adobe as the youngest student member of Adobe's student advisory board. ike Skocko's students work in the Zone of Intrinsic Motivation (ZIM), a unique area of learning found at the intersection of "what you want to do," "what I want you to do," and "what you do well." More precisely, the ZIM can be found within the walls of Valhalla High School in California and at the very heart of Skocko's classroom, known as the Mac Lab (maclab. Gamification ZIM is what powers Skocko's radically different curriculum. Rather than grades, his students work to earn "gold" and to "level up"—intangible rewards for achieving success in their "quests." In doing so, Skocko has subverted the paradigm of using grades as a form of external motivation and harnessed the intrinsically motivating power of games. "Gamification" has been used in business, social networks, and education to define a restructuring of achievement. As participants move towards levels of mastery, they "level up" as they would in a video game. By connecting learning directly to a series of challenges or quests, students become empowered to engage the curriculum at their own pace and "choose their own adventure." The Keys to Success One of the greatest advocates for gamification in education is Jane McGonigal, the director of game research and development at the Institute for the Future, a think tank that helps organizations visualize their long-term futures. McGonigal describes four key features that a game needs to have in order to gain traction and meaning in the classroom. First, the tasks must 22 January 2014 SchoolArts be matched to an achievable challenge. Second, collaboration is key; students must be able to work together to achieve goals and complete missions. Third, there must what she describes as "an epic story of why we're here." In other words, the projects must be infused with real-world meaning and significance. Finally, games need to have immediate feedback. In most video games, when you face a challenge, you immediately know how you did so that you can move on to the next challenge. In a gamified classroom, the feedback must also be immediate so that the flow of the game is not broken. In addition, gamification can have a particularly critical role within an art curriculum where risk-taking is highly valued but difficult to normalize. When successful final projects are tied to grades, it's hard to create an atmosphere of risk. Most games require repeated failure in order to achieve mastery. The Mac Lab In his book, Where Good Ideas Come From, Stephen Johnson describes inno- Creating a Gamified Curriculum Skocko has made his own process of risks, achievements, and failures perfectly transparent on the Adobe Education Exchange ( resource/a92843). Here he provides a step-by-step process for creating your own gamified curriculum. It's not an easy path, but if Skocko's classes are an example, the process is well worth it. If you're just looking to get your feet wet, however, gamification can start with something simple. Take a look at Class Dojo ( for a quick way to gamify classroom management issues. In addition, badges—real or virtual—can be used to recognize achievements in the classroom. Points for participation can earn privileges or simple rewards. Me? I'm jumping in with both feet and fully gamifiying my first class. I'll let you know how it goes. David Gran teaches high school art and film classes at the Shanghai American School in China and is the author of The Carrot Revolution, a blog about twentyfirst century art education (carrot

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