I graduated from Boise State University in 2004 with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science Secondary Education. After teaching for a few years, some friends and I opened a game store in Boise, Empyre Games & Manga. It was a great experience, but eventually we had to close our doors. I very happily went back to teaching. I taught for two years in the Alaskan Bush (Dillingham) before coming back to the Lower 48 and Idaho. After returning to school to earn my English teaching endorsement, I taught English for one year at an alternative high school in Emmett and two years in Priest River. Before coming here to White Pine Charter School, I earned my Master of Educational Technology degree from Boise State focusing on emerging technologies, specifically Gamification.
The most basic definition of Gamification is using the strategies and techniques used by game designers and using them for non-game design; in my case, Education. There are many was to “gamify” a classroom, I do something called Quest-Base Learning. The basic idea is to integrate as many motivating factors to encourage students to engage in school. In a typical classroom about the only motivating factor for students is avoidance. Avoidance is, essentially, doing something because you don’t want something else to happen. In school setting that is fail. Students do schoolwork so they don’t fail. I don’t believe that is the best way to do it. With Quest-Based Learning, the primary motivators are Empowerment and Accomplishment. By allowing students to choose not which quests (assignments) they do or don’t do; but, also choosing how they approach the quest provide a great deal of empowerment and accomplishment upon successful completion of a quest. Another positive aspect of Quest-Based Learning is how quests are evaluated. After a quest is successfully completed, the student earns full XP (credit), there is no partial credit. Because there is only full credit, a student’s grade never goes down, only up. Always up. Also, the student always knows where they are in the class. They always know what their “grade” is and how many points the need to get to the next level and how many points to win the class (get an ‘A’). It’s very exciting, and the students really seem to like it.