Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Game Dynamics in the Classroom

Just saw this talk about game dynamics on the internet and other places.

Reminded me of the best class we ever had in school. It was a math class and was taught by one of the most wonderful teachers I've ever seen. He used game dynamics in almost every aspect of his class work.

At the beginning of the year he gave us a target to solve a certain number of math problems over the course of the year. We were expected to maintain a notebook of these solutions. Periodically he would ask us how close we were to that goal. We also had to make sure we maintained a daily average in accordance with the yearly goal.

After each lesson in class he gave us problems to do. The first person to solve the problem got and 'Excellent', the next three got a 'Very Good' and the next five got 'Good'. Occasionally he'd pose more challenging problems and we could get 'Super Excellent' or 'Super Duper Excellent' in these. Each of these amounted to point and every month, the person getting the highest number of point got a chocolate as reward.

He set 'Top 20' problems as assignments. The problems were of increasing difficulty. The last one was always a fun problem. More of a joke than a problem. The last assignment of the year was of very high difficulty level. And we could score points on the assignment too.

Needless to say, it was the most exciting class we ever did for most of us. I wish more teachers would use game dynamics like that in their classrooms.

There's a pitfall though. I think the people who could never score felt really left out. Very much like those of us who don't play farmville on facebook and can't, for the life of us, figure out what the brouhaha is all about. :) But I do think with careful and compassionate design, even the so called weak students in the class can be made to enjoy school work.

4 comments:

  1. Which school/college? Which teacher?

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  2. That couldn't have been in North America. I am not allowed to reveal anything at all about my students' grades or progress to other students, or pretty much anybody else. Which is often not very easy to explain to concerned parents.

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  3. @Clarissa: That kind of privacy has it's merit. As I pointed out in the last para, the low scorers probably felt left out. This was seen in a more severe form at the college level where fail grades were publicly put up on a notice board. Depression and suicide rates in my college were (are) dangerously high.

    Nevertheless, I found the game like scenarios to be very enjoyable as a kid. Since the kids need only compete with themselves, it should be doable without breaching privacy.

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