Gamification in the classroom


Games based learning is supposed to be the next big thing. So when I revamped a unit of work for Year 10 based on designing scientific investigations, I decided to “gamify” the unit of work.

I was inspired by a YouTube video by Seth Priebatsch on gamification, where elements of gaming can be added to education. After also seeing presentations by Dean Groom and Ben Jones I have  come up with my first “gamified” set of learning experiences.

The normal non-gamified version

Here is the unit of work in its regular, non-gamified version. It is like many units of work in high schools – sequential, everyone does the same thing, etc. In a nut shell the unit of work is about how to design and carry out fair experiments to test a prediction, how to record results accurately, how to make sure your results are reliable and how to write up a report to share you findings.

scientific investigations 2011_blog version

So here’s the gamified version

The unit of work has been turned into a game called “The great science race”. At the start students are introduced to The Professor, who explains the overall game narrative. It’s sort of a  corny narrative. If anyone has a much better narrative, please let me know!


The game is divided into four quests. Each quest has a number of tasks where some are compulsory and others are optional. All tasks have been assigned points that reflect their difficulty level. For example, a fairly easy task where students have to tick whether an experiment is controlled or not will allow students to gain 5 points on completion. Whereas a more difficult task with more higher-order thinking questions will allow students to gain 10 points on completion.  This is set up to encourage students to undertake more difficult tasks. There will be a leadership showing the students’ scores.

Quest 1 is the training quest and introduces students to the  basics of experimental design (for science nerds these are the basics like the types of variables, the meaning of accuracy and reliability, when to use a control, etc). There are three compulsory tasks in Quest 1. These tasks need to be completed in order to gain the apprentice badge and a password to level up and unlock Quest 2. Quest 1 also has a number of non-compulsory tasks that will add to the students’ score. Like Quest 1, the other three quests require students to complete certain tasks before they are awarded a badge and a password to level up and unlock the next quest.

apprentice badge  cool scientist badge  distinguished scientist badge  epic scientist badge

Quests 3 and 4 involve students choosing a problem from a list and designing an experiment to solve the problem. The problems are given different points depending on their level of difficulty.

The gaming platform

So how can I implement this game? I could program it into Adobe Flash and turn it into a FLV game, but I haven’t got the time at the moment. So I decided to use the exiting resources that I’ve got:

-The game narrative, quests and the tasks within the quests will be given to students at the start of the unit of work as a OneNote notebook. The introduction (which contains the game narrative and explanation of badges) and Quest 1 will be unlocked sections. Quest 2, 3 and 4 are different sections which has been password protected. Once students have been awarded the relevant badge they will get the password to unlock the section.

-Edmodo will be used to give students their badges and password. The class will be a group on Edmodo. This will mean that a post to the class group will be seen by all students. A “small group” will be created for each student team. Posts to small groups will be seen only by students in that small group. This means that students can have discussions amongst each other and with The Professor (me) without the rest of the class seeing. Once a student team has completed a Quest, they convert that OneNote section of the quest into a pdf document and use the “turn it in” function in Edmodo to submit it for marking. The Professor (me) will mark the quest and provide feedback. Points, badges and passwords will be given to students via posts to their Edmodo small group. Updates on which teams’ progress on badges and points will posted on the Edmodo class group.

So that’s it for the time being ….

This unit of work will be implemented in a week’s time. There will be some classes doing the non-gamified version and my class (and others) doing the gamified version. I shall update the progress on this blog.

I am also applying the same gamification techniques to a Year 7 unit of work on the classification of living things.

Watch this space …. 🙂

12 thoughts on “Gamification in the classroom

  1. This is an awesome idea Alice! I see so many applications for this style of teaching and learning in my PDHPE KLA. You’ve inspired me to give this a crack! I especially like the use of passwords to unlock different levels in the OneNote. Congrats again on such an innovative idea!

  2. Wow! I love how you have used readily available and relatively simple tools to carry incorporate the principles of GBL The structure you have devised truly puts this style of learning within the reality of most teachers across all KLAs to have a go at implementing this style of learning. Great naming of the levels, I’m sure your students will be engaged and have a bit of fun as well. Will be interested to hear how it goes. Brilliant!

  3. This is awesome – so inspiring! I agree with Brendan – the password protect on OneNote is genius – I didn’t know that feature existed! I am keen to give this a go with Year 9 and 10. One question … if all teachers were doing this in every class, what would student response be? Cos we could easily say they;d bet bored of it – but then surely they’re already bored with the standard ‘chalk and talk’ model? Love it Alice – you’re amazing!

  4. Alice this is fantastic! Thank you – the inspiration I needed at the end of a long day. Brilliant – especially the One Note. Congratulations. Love the give it a go approach.

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  8. This is great. I want to try this approach for my year 5 class next year. We spoke at TM. Maybe my Australian identity unit or science living things. Did u make up the game still unsure hep u set it up. Love to hear from u

    • Hi Liz. I’m more than happy to help if you want to try this with your class. I’m going to be doing it with my year 7s this year with slight variations based on student feedback from last year.

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